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

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

28 Oct., 1926.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

28 Oct., 1926.

The Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

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through the whole of it. In Cartwright's Memorial he is praying for a grant of land. If your Lordship would look first at page 1065 he is setting out a number of good reasons why in his view a grant of land should be made to him, and if you look at line 31 on page 1065 he says this : “ Your Lordships ”—that is Lord Dartmouth, who was His Majesty's Secretary of State for the American Department.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : This man is a merchant.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : This is a brother. He is asking this : “ to command that a Royal grant be made to this Memoralist and his heirs of the small tract of the said coast of Labrador which lies between Cape Charles and Cape St. Lewis.” That is what he is asking for. If you would not mind now turning back to page 1059 he says : “ In the Spring of the year 1770 when no British subject in Labrador would venture to reside further northward than Chatteau Bay and the islands immediately adjacent. Your Lordship's memorialist, at great hazard and expense, settled himself in the River Charles on the said coast in order to establish Seal and Salmon fisheries ; to fish for Cod ”—this is important—“ to carry on the furring business ; to open a friendly and commercial intercourse with the Exkimaux Indians with whom we were then upon very bad terms.” What I rely upon there is that it is not only cod fishing ; the first thing he wants to do is seal and salmon, and also to carry on a furring business.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : This again is not sent to the Governor of Newfoundland ; it is sent to the Home Government.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : I submit that that has equal advantages in respect of our contention that at that time both the Home Government and the various Governors knew all about it.

Viscount HALDANE : Knew all about what ? An application for something that might have been inland to some extent ?

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : And knew that in this wild and unexplored territory which they called the coast of Labrador there was furring going on.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : How does that show that the Government granted it to Newfoundland in 1763 ?

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : In my submission, whether it is under Quebec or whether it is under Newfoundland, it is the acts done which are only consistent with the view that the Commission has that interpretation.

Lord SUMNER : What you want it for, surely, is to negative the idea that it was the cod fishing alone that mattered, and among the

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circumstances is included the fact that furring and salmon up the rivers were objects of gain. That may be some ground for saying we have no reason for limiting “ coast ” to the mere cod–fishing on the coast. That seems to me to be the real point. It does not so much matter whether they got a grant or not, or even whether they went up the rivers or not, but that there was a desire for fur trade and fur catching, and salmon.

Viscount HALDANE : The Esquimaux may have come down to the coast ; I do not know.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : My Lord, I was going to read an excerpt from this on page 1062. He deals in this memorial with seal fishing and salmon fishing, and on page 1062, at line 15, he says this : “ The furring business requires a thorough knowledge of the interiour part of the country which, on account of the deep snows and the rigour of the furring season is only to be acquired by slow degrees. The country furnishes no other subsistence to the furrier than what his traps provide him, and these require a wide extent of ground to have any tolerable success in order to penetrate to any distance, each furrier (for they all separate and hunt singly) must, at short distances one from another, build himself huts to live in, proof against bad weather, so that he shall never be far from shelter in case of storms. Hence, it is easy to conceive, that to fur that country properly each adventurer should have an exclusive right : and otherwise that it never will be practiced except in a very insignificant manner just around the Sealing Posts, by way of something to do at idle times.” I submit that that does bear out the view that these gentlemen are not limited to cod fishing only ; they were entirely free to engage in any operation which the nature and the character of the country would allow. He deals with the shore whale fishery there and he deals with the Indian trade ; but I do not think I will take up your Lordships' time in reading that. He asks for a grant. He had a good deal of trouble with these people, Noble and Pinson. They petitioned the Lords of Trade, and if you would be good enough to look at the top of page 1069 you will see again this point that I am trying to make. In the way Lord Sumner is good enough to put it for me, it is not cod fishing only in this particular part of the territory ; it is seal and salmon rather than cod. They say : “ Your petitioners now beg leave to assure your Lordships that the cod fishery on that coast cannot be carried on with advantage, unless connected with the Salmon and Seal Fisheries.” Then they ask for conformation of the sealing posts near Cape Charles which they now occupy.

Viscount HALDANE : They heard the other side.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : That is right, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE: And on page 1070 there is the decision.

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Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Page 1071 we need not trouble about. That is an order directing a draft representation to be prepared, and the draft, as I conceive it to be, is on page 1069. This was after they had the memorials of Cartwright, Noble and Pinson, praying that they be confirmed in the sealing posts, and this is their conclusion : “ Having been attended by several memorialists in person and entered fully into an examination of the Nature and circumstances of the fisheries for seal and salmon in the rivers and bays upon the coast of Labrador, as likewise of the fishery for cod by ships fitted out from Great Britain, it does appear to us from the different seasons proper for these fisheries and the different modes of carrying them on, that they may not only be conducted without interruption and detriment to each other, but that the only method of making these undertakings an object of consideration to the public, or of advantage to individuals concerned in them, will be by thus carrying them on in connection with each other by ships annually fitted out from Great Britain, and as it does further appear to be manifest, that actual residence and continued possession are essentially necessary to the carrying on the seal and salmon fisheries on the coast of Labrador, we beg leave humbly to submit to your Majesty the following regulation as proper for securing the possessions of persons concerned in the said resident fisheries of seal and salmon on the above coast, namely, that such of your Majesty's subjects of Great Britain and Ireland who have taken or shall hereafter take such actual possession in any of the rivers and bays—”

Viscount HALDANE : “ Rivers and bays ! ”

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Yes, my Lord—“ on the coast of Labrador to the north of the Streights of Bellisle, and who have erected or shall hereafter erect houses and warehouses, and have made or shall hereafter make, other establishments necessary to the carrying on the seal and salmon fisheries, shall be protected in such possession, provided such persons do for the future annually fit out from Great Britain one or more ship or ships to be employed in the cod fishery on the said coast of Labrador and provided also, that the greatest care be taken that the proprietor or proprietors of such fishing posts do not claim or occupy a greater extent of the coast within the said bays or rivers, than shall in the judgment of Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland or the officer by him deputed, be thought absolutely necessary in proportion to the number of vessels or men employed at the said posts.”

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : That, of course, is really the important passage, that whatever is done there it is the Governor of Newfoundland who is to settle the details.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Yes, my Lord.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : Otherwise it would leave entirely open the question whether, assuming this was a British possession, it was under the Governor of Newfoundland.

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Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Yes, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE : It refers to the Governor of Newfoundland.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : The same would apply mutatis mutandis if it was the Governor of Quebec. This is 1773. That document alone gets rid of any idea that the authorities at home did not care anything at all about sealing or salmon fishing ; that all they were concerned with was the cod fishing. They were saying : This is a valuable thing, but it must not interfere with the principles laid down in the Act of William III.

Lord SUMNER : There is a curious expression at line 30, on page 1070: “ Provided also that the greatest care be taken that the proprietor or proprietors of such fishing posts do not claim or occupy a greater extent of the coast within the said bays or rivers, than shall in the judgment of Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland or the officer by him deputed be thought absolutely necessary.”

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD: I should submit that that meant what we have contended for. It is not coast or bays, it is within the rivers as well.

Viscount HALDANE : It may help to get rid of the notion that a mile was enough.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : I can only proceed by stages, my Lord. Of course, naturally in an inquiry of this kind one does not want to take up your Lordships' time in going into too much detail in what, after all, as Lord Haldane said earlier in the day was a question of principle. On this argument it is a pure question of principle. This part I am addressing myself to really is only valuable, in my submission, as showing what people at or about the time thought it meant. In the same way that my learned friend used the atlas, so I use this. Here you have letter after letter—I can read any number of them—which are only consistent with the view that so long as you comply with the Act and fit out your ships you can do as you like, there is no restriction that you must not go somewhere, there are restrictions that you must not do things within a distance from the shore, six miles, and that sort of thing, but there is no restriction preventing any inhabitant in Labrador from going into the country furring, meeting the Esquimaux, and getting as far up as the boundary of Hudson's Bay if he was so minded. That I submit is valuable as contemporary action on the part of the inhabitants, throwing light on what was meant by the term “ coast,” and what the term “ coast ” meant in the various documents. I would like to call attention to one or two matters, unless I have made good my point already, that it was not only cod, because the Lords of Trade went into this question with very considerable care, and at different times different views prevailed.
2 X

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The LORD CHANCELLOR : As far as I am concerned you have made the point good (subject to what we hear after) that it was not only cod, but it was also seal and salmon.

Viscount HALDANE : I have never doubted it myself.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : It is rather instructive to see that it was not until the 27th of March, 1766, that the Lords of Trade ever had any idea that the cod fishing was any good. I can give the references if necessary, without reading unnecessary matter. The first set of Lords of Trade were told that what was really of value in Labrador was the sealing and the salmon. Would you be good enough to look at Volume III, the 27th of March ? I am cutting out all the intervening part.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : That is page 961, and we have had part of that read before.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Part of that, my Lord, has been read before. Would you mind looking at page 962. I will only read an excerpt from it at line 10. This is where they change their views from those on page 940, if your Lordships would make a cross reference there. I will come back to that in a moment. The new Lords of Trade had just been appointed, only one member of the old board being left, a certain Mr. Rice. They say this : “ It appears to be the opinion of your Majesty's Governor that the greatest Object of commercial Benefit to be derived from this coast is that of a Cod Fishery, more abundant and more advantageous in every respect than that carried on upon the coast of Newfoundland ; and that the Seal and Sea–Cow Fishery which our Predecessors in Office appear in their Representation to Your Majesty to have considered as the principal Object of commercial Regulation in these Territories, neither has been nor ever can be other than a secondary Object of Attention, confined to particular Parts of that Coast, and carried on at a Season when it will not interfere with the other more important Fishery for Cod ; for, although it be true that the French had established several exclusive Posts upon the Coast of Labrador for the purpose of carrying on in the Winter Season a Fishery for Seals and Sea–Cows, and a Traffick with the Savages ; yet the Governor represents, that a considerable Ship, Fishery for Cod was carried on upon the Coast of Labrador by Ships fitted out from the Ports of old France.” Up to that time the Lords of Trade had taken quite a different view. My Lords, 1 am venturing to do something which I am sure your Lordships will quite approve of, to endeavour not to go into too much of these details. I think I have given your Lordships sufficient to found my proposition that so far as Labrador was concerned all kinds of fishing mere contemplated, and any kind of furring, without any limitation of any kind. Your Lordships will remember one illustration which came in the list of judicial acts. You will remember Judge Paterson some time in 1827 gave leave for a writ to be issued returnable on the 13th of August, 1827, for the trial of an alleged obstruction of the salmon in


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