The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Mr. Barrington.Ward.

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

28 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Mr. Barrington–Ward.

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the big inlet, the Hamilton inlet. That shows judicial acts were being done in the interior country. One also has to bear this in mind, that the regular population there was very much increasing. It is set out in a compendious form in the Counter Case of Newfoundland. I will not go back to the document, because it is not necessary. May I conclude what I want to say.
My submission is that the white population in Labrador always regarded themselves as subject to the laws of Newfoundland, and that they subjected the interior of that country to all the development of what it was capable, bearing in mind that it was not a country which could in any way be made the subject of cultivation. I submit that on evidence that I have given you, of trapping fur–bearing animals, hunting the deer, and later on by something which I shall be coming to in a moment, the granting of timber leases—of course, that is in more recent times—they have effectually used the country which in our submission is subject to the Commission of the Government of Newfoundland.
If your Lordships would not mind looking at page 92 of the red volume, which is the Counter Case of Newfoundland, it is rather instructive just to see the sort of population there was. There are references at the sides but I need not trouble about referring to them. The Case says at page 92, line 11 : “ Moreover as in Newfoundland, so on the Coast of Labrador, though the cod–fishery was always the main, it was never the exclusive object of the Government's interest. There was not from the first any attempt to prevent, fishermen from fishing for salmon in the rivers or from hunting or trapping for fur. Nor was there at any time a rigid enforcement of Statutes or regulations prohibiting settlement. In 1679 1,700 persons were resident in Newfoundland. In 1765 Governor Palliser reported 16,000 as the number of men remaining in Newfoundland during the winter.” Then there is a reference to the Commission of Governor Graves, and then : “ Between the years 1763 and 1809 the resident population of Newfoundland increased, and by the 24th April, 1817, has risen to between 40,000 and 50,000.”
Pausing there for a moment, the reason I cite that is to show that this idea of Newfoundland being empty in the winter is, I submit, wholly illusory and what is true of Newfoundland is equally true of Labrador ; there is no difference in principle between the two ; they are both subject to the same administration ; there are people there to whom the administration is left when the Governor has to leave by reason of having to go home. The Governor, being also Admiral, was obliged to take the King's ships home ; they could not keep them all in the ice ; they would have been destroyed. But his administration was only temporarily suspended, and he left the administration of Newfoundland and Labrador to those Justices of the Peace who, your Lordships heard some days ago, were carrying out their functions in both those countries. Of course, at an early time one gets established jurisdictions in Newfoundland and also Statutes passed creating jurisdictions for Newfoundland as well. For all those reasons I submit that it is no good saying that the Commission of the Governor did not extend in the fullest sense of the term to the
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administration of that part of the Peninsula of Labrador as well as to the Island of Newfoundland.
Your Lordships know the trouble that has arisen in this case was due to the discovery of those valuable spruce trees in the interior. We shall no doubt hear from my learned friend, Mr. Macmillan, later on, what part, if any, Canada took in developing that industry. It does not come before your Lordships definitely in the evidence, but there is evidence, and I found myself upon it, to show that we were granting timber leases to a number of residents there within the territory. The reference is Volume III, page 1641. If your Lordships will be good enough to look at that page I will give you some illustrations ; I am not going through them all. You will see applications were made as long ago as 1898, before the dispute had arisen, and I think before the Statute passed by Canada purporting to extend its boundary had ever been made law. It is long before the dispute.
On the 7th, May, 1898, applications were approved. Your Lordship will see at line 10, A. Le C. Berteau, over 153 square miles on the southern side of the Grand Lac of the North West River. That is right in the heart of the country. Then E. H. Berteau the same ; that is Hamilton Inlet ; I think those are all Hamilton Inlet ; some are on the coast. There are a number ; I am not going to read them all out, but it shows that people were applying for timber allotments, and there were people who approved or did not approve them. If you look at line 32 of page 1642, you will see some were not approved. The point is not whether they were approved or not approved. The deciding authority was the Executive Council of the Colony of Newfoundland.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : Surely that only comes to this, that at that time the Executive Council of Newfoundland assumed that they were the proper authorities ; that is all.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : That is right, my Lord. Your Lordship remembers I said just now that the evidence did not come before you in any very convincing way. What I mean is that it is only the fact that we did it, and you will find negatively that the Canadians at that time, as far as I know, never took any objection to it.

Viscount HALDANE ; That is 1898.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Yes, my Lord, I took that, because when you get later on, the evidential value gets very considerably less. naturally, once the dispute has arisen. Sir William Macgregor, the Governor, at page 1647, points that out quite clearly in 1906, in approving some Minutes which I need not read, but which you will find in Volume V at page 2257; I am not going to trouble with them ; they are merely recommendations of grants. What Sir William Macgregor says at page 1647 is this : “ I have approved of these Minutes in the usual way, though I have grave doubts as to the desirability of granting

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leases to cut timber over large areas on the Labrador Coast without a report.” Obviously as late as 1906, for what it is worth, he interprets the area of his jurisdiction in the sense for which we contend. You do not find Canada, as far as I know, making any objection.
I am reminded that perhaps I was not quite accurate in saying that the dispute had not arisen ; it had arisen a little earlier ; but the point I make about it is, whether there was a dispute or not, the only authority you find making any sort of attempt to use this new found wealth is the administrative authority of the Colony of Newfoundland.
Now, on the other point, your Lordship was good enough to say, at one time, at any rate, that you did not want authority for the contention which I was putting forward. It is not a matter which can be elaborated at any great length. It is on page 154 of the red volume. Your Lordship has the point in mind ; I am going back to the Proclamation just to finish this. My submission is as to the meaning, upon ordinary principles of construction, of the word “ Coast ” there ; and may I adopt Lord Finlay's expression, by reference back to Thomas Graves' Commission, that is at page 149, “ and appoint you the said Thomas Graves to be our Governor and Commander–in–Chief in and over Our Island of Newfoundland and all the Coasts of Labrador.” I submit one has to read those words into the Proclamation.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : The Proclamation is only stating there what has been done by the Commission.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : That is right, my Lord ; and therefore the operative words are the words of the Commission. My submission is that it is not a valid argument to say that because the Commission is granted in the language which is used, it must be cut down and curtailed by reason of the purpose for which it is granted. My submission is that any argument founded on this : “ Oh, you have got nothing more than a sort of Admiralty jurisdiction,” is, as a matter of construction, entirely unsound. The jurisdiction that the Governor gets is no more and no less than what is conferred upon him by the Commission over “ all the coasts of Labrador,” and so one is back again on the question which really is the question in this case : What do you mean by the “ coasts of Labrador ” ? In determining that, my submission is that you cannot look at this purpose of the free fishery at all ; it is not wanted.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : When the Proclamation says that the territory, whatever it is, is to be put under the care of the Governor, it is doing nothing more than saying that he has been appointed Governor.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD: That is all. Therefore the document which wants construing is the document on page 149, quite free and untrameled from any limitation supposed to be put upon it by the introductory words at page 154. I only want to make the point, but I

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submit that any argument founded on that is unsound and that the problem still remains, What do you mean by the expression “ the coast of Labrador ” ? That I have told your Lordships already, and I do not propose to say anything more about it.
My Lords, there is a little evidence on the question I have been discussing, and I think possibly I ought to indicate what it is. Perhaps I ought to call attention to one or two affidavits in Volume V, just to show what was happening in the country. Will your Lordships be good enough to turn to Volume V, page 2312. There are a good many of them, but I am not going to read them all ; it is just to give you an idea of what was going on during the last upwards of 30 or 40 years in Labrador. Mr. Finger says : “ I was born on the Labrador and have lived at Nain all my life and my father before me. I am forty–three years of age. I have hunted and fished since I was ten years of age, going in over one hundred miles into the interior. I have been in the interior almost as much as I have been in Nain, spending part of the winter and part of the spring in there. I have always lived under the laws of Newfoundland, and have always recognised the Governor and Government of Newfoundland. I have never had anything to do with the laws of Canada or Quebec, and do not know anything about them. I claim to be a subject of Newfoundland and nobody from any other country has ever interfered with me or objected.”
Then Mr. Kopek, on page 2313, says : “ I am fifty–six years of age. I have lived in Nain all my life and my father before me. I have been in the interior of the country summer and winter, trapping and hunting. I have gone in over a hundred miles, living in snow–houses in the winter and in tents in the summer. Nobody have ever interfered with me or been up there. I have always obeyed Newfoundland laws and have recognized Newfoundland authority as being over us.”

Viscount HALDANE : He was very fortunate ; nobody meddled with him.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Dr. Grenfell, holding a Newfoundland Commission as Justice of the Peace, frequently administered justice there and he did it very effectively. I do not know how he enforced his sentences, but he certainly did administer justice in that country up till quite recently ; and also—I am not saying this in any captious sense, there is no doubt from the papers in the case and from what we know of Dr. Grenfell, that the work he did has been very beneficial and of value to the nation. Whatever the evidential value may be, I am not going to read that now, because at some later stage, when your Lordship is being put in possession of the Canadian point of view, no doubt my learned friend will call attention to it.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : I see these people lived in Nain, and Nain has a biggish river coming down into it.

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Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Yes, my Lord.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : The first one says : “ I have hunted and fished since I was ten years of age, going in over 100 miles into the interior.” That river goes a great deal more than that.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Yes, my Lord. Then at page 2314 is a gentleman of better education, but his evidence is none the less valuable. He is Christian Schmidt, the Trade Superintendent of the Unitas Fratrum Mission Store. He says : “ (1) I have been resident in Nain for the past 19 years, and am well acquainted with the habits and customs of the Esquimaux and natives of the Labrador, some of whom, in winter–time, go as far as three hundred miles into the interior for the purpose of hunting, trapping, etc. (2) As far as I know the natives have always obeyed the laws of Newfoundland, and have always considered themselves to be under Newfoundland Jurisdiction.” Another thing he says which is also very important : “ We have never paid duties to any Canadian authorities and have never been required to do so. We have been exempt from duties by the Government of Newfoundland.” That is the very old exemption, your Lordships will remember, of the Moravian Brethren who were exempted from duties in the Eighteenth Century. Then he says : “ So far as I know, the Government of the Dominion of Canada or the Province of Quebec have never made any attempt to claim jurisdiction on this portion of Labrador. (4) Two years ago, when in conversation with Captain Bernier, an Official of the Canadian Government, and Mr. Duncan, a Customs Officer, they stated that ‘ they were willing enough to enforce Canadian laws on the Ungava side of the Bay, but they did not wish to interfere with anything on the Labrador Coast.’”
Then the next one, Mr. William Ford, is very much the same. That is on page 2315. He says : “ I am 65 years of age and reside at Black Island. I have been residing on the Coast all my lifetime. My father came from Devonshire, England. He came here at the age of about 16, and lived at Paul's Island most of his life. He has been dead over 30 years. Sometimes he visited England and came out again. He fished, trapped, and hunted on the Coast, and had five or six English servants. He used to go into the interior about 150 miles trading with the Indians. I often went hunting for my father during his lifetime.” I do not think that means hunting for him in the sense of trying to find him ; I think it means hunting as representing him. “ I have been inland over 150 miles hunting deer. I have always recognised the Newfoundland Government and Newfoundland laws.”

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : This man comes from the mouth of the Hamilton Inlet apparently.

Mr. BARRINGTON–WARD : Yes, my Lord, that is right. There are a great many affidavits of that kind which of course cannot be put on one side in so far as they have any evidential value upon the problem


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