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

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.

p. 244

Quebec gets everything which Graves had in his character as Governor of Labrador, but the Governor of Newfoundland goes on in his character of Commander in Chief of the Newfoundland Fleet supervising the coast just as before.

Viscount HALDANE: You would expect that.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think you would. It is a most practical arrangement, but it does appear rather to suggest there really was something over and above the care and surveillance of the fishing which was the subject of transfer to Governor Carleton. Now comes the document which I think is the one which perhaps is the most important document for the purposes of arriving at the true construction of the actual Commissions and Instructions immediately concerned. It is the report made by the Lords of Trade on the 8th of June, 1763, to the Secretary of State for the Southern Department recommending what should be done in the rest of the area, which as I have said was now consolidated by the victory of our Arms and by the withdrawal of the French to the west of the Mississippi. They have dealt with the Newfoundland area and the coast of Labrador. Now comes what was, of course, a far more important question as regards population and as regards organised trade than anything in these high latitudes could be. The point was: the French have ceded to us French Canada; add that to whatever British interests already exist in this part of the world; now how are we going to organise and administer this consolidated Empire? If your Lordships will now turn to Volume III, page 903, you will find a document of which a great many passages are of the greatest importance. It is a rather long document, but there is a great deal more in it when one reads it carefully than can be safely extracted in one or two short passages. It is the Report of the Lords of Trade, dated the 8th June, 1763, to the Earl of Egremont at the Foreign Office, as to what they suggest should be done. You will find in this some very striking indications, not only with reference to the immediate area, but in reference to adjoining areas, in support of the proposition that at this time, 1763, the area from the margin of the sea up to the height of land was properly regarded as coast for these purposes. There are very striking examples quite elsewhere on the map. “May it please your Majesty,—Having received Your Majesty's Commands, signified to Us by a Letter from the Earl of Egremont, dated May 5th, 1763, to take into Consideration, without loss of Time, those Articles of the late Definitive Treaty of Peace, which relate to the Cessions made by France and Spain, and to report Our Opinion by what Regulations the most extensive Advantages may be derived from them, and those Advantages rendered most permanent and secure to your Majesty's trading Subjects; And Your Majesty having further directed Us with regard to North America in general, to point out, what new Governments it may be necessary to establish, with the Form most proper for such Governments ”and a series of other things. Then line 5: “And Your Majesty having commanded that,

p. 245

particularly as to Canada and Newfoundland, after furnishing every Information in our power relating to the Fishery, We should consider the Encroachments made by the French in this Article contrary to the stipulations in the Treaty of Utrecht, and give our Opinion by what Means such Encroachments may be prevented in future, and any inconvenience which may arise from the Vicinity of St. Pierre and Micquelon, may be most effectually guarded against. That in respect to Florida, We should report upon it's Produce, the situation of it's Harbours, and Rivers, with the benefits which may arise from the free navigation of the River Mississippi,—That in regard to the Islands conquered in the West Indies, and Senegal on the Coast of Africa, We should state the means which appear to us most effectual for securing and improving the Commercial Advantages which may be derived from them:—But that upon the whole, it was Your Majesty's Pleasure (as some time would be required to examine and deliberate on the several Points referred to Us) that we should as soon as possible, report to Your Majesty Our Opinions on such of them as appear to Us most pressing, in order that Directions may be given without less of time; In Obedience to Your Majesty's Commands, We have taken the several points referred to us into our most serious Consideration, and are of Opinion that we shall best comply with Your Majesty's Intention and Directions by stating particularly the Advantages which severally result to Your Majesty' Colonies and the Commerce of your Subjects by the Cessions stipulated in the late Treaty, and then submitting Our Humble Opinion to your Majesty of the Means, which appear to us immediately necessary to be put in Execution for securing and improving those Advantages.” Then I can leave out the next paragraph. “The most obvious Advantages arising from the Cessions made by the Definitive Treaty are, The exclusive Fishery of the River St. Laurence”—we must distinguish here between the River St. Laurence and the Gulf of St. Laurence, because they do constantly—“on all the Coasts in the Gulph of St. Laurence and all the Islands in that Gulph. From all these Fisheries your Majesty's Subjects were hitherto entirely excluded; partly by the express Stipulations of the Treaty of Utrecht by which Cape Breton, St. Johns and the other Islands in the Gulph were dismember'd from Nova Scotia and ceded to France, partly by the Claim immediately set up by France to the whole Southern Shore of the Gulph.” That is an echo of the famous controversy which used to be called the Southern Shore controversy. “In consequence of this Claim,” and so forth. It was not till recently it could be enjoyed. Then about Line 10: “We have reason to conclude from the Spirit and Industry which Your Majesty's Subjects have shewn ever since the Reduction of Louisbourg that it will become equally valuable in their Hands, especially when We consider that, the Fishery of the River St. Laurence consisting of Whales, Seals, Sea–Cows, &ca has been in the short period since the taking of Quebec, carried to a much greater Extent by Your Majesty's Subjects, than ever it was by the French, during their possession of Canada.” Then they go on to explain

p. 246

how things have improved owing to the withdrawal of the French. Then at Line 29: “And by their possession of the whole Coast of Labrador.” May I, with great respect, invite your attention to this. If you want to see what the “Coast of Labrador” meant in 1763, it is not very immaterial to see how the Lords of Trade talk about it. “And by their Possession of the whole Coast of Labrador, they not only carried on an extensive trade with the Exquimeaux Indians in Oyl, Furs, &ca (in which they allowed Your Majesty's Subjects no Share) but by the vicinity of the Eastern Part of that Coast, to that part of Newfoundland, (where a permissive right of drying their fish, only during the Fishery Season, was granted by the Treaty of Utrecht) They assumed in some Measure an Exclusive Right to the Navigation in the Streights of Bellisle. These several Encroachments, will, We apprehend, entirely cease, on the one hand, by the compleat Settlement of Your Majesty's Colony of Nova Scotia, according to its true and ancient Boundaries, and on the other by the Annexation of the Labrador Coast to the Government of Newfoundland.” “Annexation” you notice it says, it is a definite transfer of definite territory—annexation—“and by the faithful execution of those Instructions, which Your Majesty has has been pleased to give to Your Governor of that Island.” They say the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon will be a certain difficulty, but they can get over it. I think your Lordships can now pass on to the middle of page 906. This again is an extremely important passage, because it refers to Hudson's Bay. “The next obvious benefit acquired by the Cessions made to Your Majesty is the Fur and Skin Trade of all the Indians in North America. The first of these Articles before the present Cession was enjoyed by the French almost entirely: The only Part left in the Hands of Your Majesty's Subjects, being that carried on by the Exclusive Company of Hudson's Bay, and a very inconsiderable quantity through the Province of New York. This Trade was acquired by virtue of the Possession which they had taken”—that means which the French had taken—“(contrary to the Stipulations of the Treaty of Utrecht).” Now, my Lord—“of all the Lakes in North America, communicating with the River St. Laurence, tho' the circumjacent Territory avowedly belonged to the Six Nations of Indians, acknowledged by the French to be Your Majesty's Subjects in that Treaty, and by virtue of the Claim which they afterwards set up and were suffered to maintain for a long time of forcibly excluding Your Majesty's Subjects from any Navigation in those Lakes.”
Now, my Lords, it is a little difficult perhaps for me to make plain to your Lordships why this passage is so important for me, you will find it in a moment; it is as a matter of fact one of the many indications that the area which passed by the name of Indian Country, which again and again will appear in a moment, as a matter of fact, is an area which is circumjacent territory to these great Lakes. I am going to show your Lordships in a moment a contemporary map which describes this very area in the plainest possible terms as the area so to be attributed. “But this trade which the French with the utmost industry had carried to the greatest

p. 247

extent, by means of numerous well chosen Posts and Forts sufficient as well as to overawe as to supply all the Indians upon that immense Continent, is now fallen intirely and exclusively into the hands of Your Majesty's Subjects and may be secured and communicated to all Your Majesty's Colonies according to the industry of each, by means of these Posts and Forts with proper Regulations for the Trade with the Indians, under the Protection of such a Military Force as may preserve their tranquility, not only against Indian Incursions but be ready for their Defence against any European attack.” That was fur. Then there is an observation about skins which I do not think matters. Then on page 907, at line 14, the new paragraph: “Another advantage attending the late Treaty”—there is a rather interesting use of the word coast coming now: “is the secure settling of the whole Coast of North America, as it's produce may invite, or Convenience for Settlement may offer, from the Mouth of the Mississippi to the Boundaries of the Hudson's Bay Settlements, with the whole variety of produce which is capable of being raised in that immense Tract of Sea Coast, either by the industry of Emigrants from Europe, or from the overflowing of Your Majesty's ancient Colonies.” May I pause a moment. That phrase “Your Majesty's ancient Colonies” had a perfectly definite connotation at the time, it meant a series of Colonies such as Virginia, New England, Maryland—a whole series—which ran down and were bordered on the one side by the Atlantic and on the other side by the Alleghanys, the continuation of that mountain chain. This expression “The ancient Colonies” occurs again and again, as referring to that very broad strip of territory, and what will be very significant is (when we look at some documents in a moment) as a matter of fact these very same ancient colonies are to be found contemporaneously described as the coast of America, between certain points, and they ran back to the height of land as I will satisfy your Lordships. But see how it goes on.
They say it will be a great advantage to have the whole Coast of North America because he says “Your Majesty's Ancient Colonies appeared to be over stock'd with inhabitants, occasioned partly from an extremely increasing Population in some of those Colonies, whose Boundaries had become too narrow for their Numbers”; one asks oneself how far back did the boundaries go. You will see in a moment. “But chiefly by the Monopoly of Lands in the Hands of Land Jobbers from the extravagant and injudicious Grants made by some of Your Majesty's Governors, whereby a great many of your Majesty's industrious Subjects were either forced into Manufactures,” which at that period were not looked upon with favour in the Home Country, not being a use which the Home Government favoured, like at a later stage one has heard of a Schedule of Prohibited Industries for Australia; “being excluded from planting by the high Price of Land (A Situation which they otherwise would have preferr'd) or forced to”—forced to do what?—“emigrate to the other Side of the Mountains.” I can satisfy your Lordships if you will examine this document with the contemporaneous map. that there cannot be the least doubt that

p. 248

these ancient Colonies, which are sometimes described as “The Coast” as between one point and another, run back to the height of land as it was conceived, and if you went over the mountain top into the interior, you were emigrating outside of the Colony into the other side of the mountains; “where they were exposed to the Irruptions of the Indians as well as the Hostilities of the French. And though, on the one Hand, Your Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia according to its true and just Boundaries, and on the other, that of Georgia, would have contained many more of Your Majesty's Subjects than were in this disagreable Situation, and more advantageously for the Trade and Interest of Your Kingdoms, Yet the Hostilities which the French contrived to excite at first, by the Indians in their Alliance, and at last by regular Troops in Nova Scotia, and a Dread of the like Calamaties on the Side of Georgia from the Indians and Spaniards, have hitherto prevented the salutary progress of these new Settlements, and the happy Consequences which otherwise might have been expected from them. We have already mentioned the great Scope and Room which there is for beneficial Settlements, in the Article of Fishery in Nova Scotia. Another great Advantage however, of the late Treaty, producing Strength to Your Kingdom and Riches to Your Subjects, is the future Supply which the new Acquisitions will afford of Naval Stores.” We need not trouble, I think, about that. Then on the next page they deal with the Province of Georgia, with sugar, coffee and cotton, and there is a rather interesting description of Senegal, though, of course, it is purely by analogy. On page 908, at line 29: “The last advantageous Consequence arising from the Cessions which We shall now lay before Your Majesty is that of securing the whole Gum Trade on the Coast of Africa from a Monopoly in the Hands of the French by means of the River Senegal as well as the Acquisition of a considerable Share.” Now the have pointed out the advantages; then they are going to suggest what is to be done; and pages 909, 910 and 911, appear to me to be on the whole the three most important pages in these many Volumes for the purpose of a contemporary exposition. “Having thus stated the most obvious advantages resulting from the Cession made to Your Majesty by the late definitive Treaty, We submit to Your Majesty, as, “Our humble Opinion, that they can only be secured and improved by an immediate Establishment of regular Governments, in all such Places, where planting and Settlement, as well as Trade and Commerce are the immediate Objects. For in order to invite new Settlers to risque their persons and Property in taking up new Lands, as well as to secure the old Inhabitants in the Enjoyment of those Rights and Priviledges reserved to them by the Treaty, such regular Government appears, both from Reason and Experience, of absolute Necessity. And it seems likewise necessary for the same reasons, as well as to secure Your Majesty's Sovereignty and the Publick Tranquility, that a large Military force should be kept up in each Government, 'till by the increase of Inhabitants, each Colony shall be enabled to maintain their own Governments by their own internal Force. But, as no such regular civil Government is either necessary or indeed can be established, where


Partnered Projects Government and Politics - Table of Contents Site Map Search Heritage Web Site Home