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








28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Lord Sumner.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.




p. 275

on maps and all sorts of documents of the time. Primarily it is round the Great Lakes ; it is an immense area indicated in the maps.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : You have read this, have you not?

Sir JOHN SIMON : My Lord, I am merely picking these passages out ; I am not going to read them at length.

Viscount HALDANE : He speaks of “ the exclusive Company of Hudson's Bay.”

Sir JOHN SIMON : He does, my Lord. Then at page 909—the Lord Chancellor truly says we have had this before, but I am not seeking to do more than put the passages together—at line 36 you will see this phrase : “ And We apprehend that no such delay can be attended with very material inconvenience, since, if your Majesty shall be pleased to adopt the general proposition of leaving a large tract of country round the Great Lakes as an Indian Country.” There really cannot, I think, be much doubt as to what that means.
Then the third passage in the document is at page 910, beginning at line 16. “ It is needless to state with any degree of precision, the Bounds and Limits of this extensive Country, for We should humbly propose to Your Majesty that the new Government of Canada should be restricted, so as to leave on the one hand, all the Lands lying about the great Lakes and beyond the Sources of the Rivers which fall into the River St. Lawrence from the North to be thrown into the Indian Country, and on the other hand, all the Lands from Cape Roziere to Lake Champlain, along the Heights where the Sources of the Rivers rise, which fall into the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Ocean, to be annexed to Nova Scotia.” It is that passage which makes me think that it may very well be that the Indian Country, primarily circumjacent to the Great Lakes, may, for all I know, and I am not contesting it, have included what I call my yellow. That is to say, here is the River St. Lawrence ; of course, I distinguish between the River St. Lawrence and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It may be that behind the area which has been thrown into Quebec there was a certain strip which ultimately fell into Quebec and is coloured yellow in my sketch map, which might be regarded as one of the outlying parts of the Indian Country.
I think those three passages show the position in this very important document. Now, I ask your Lordships to pass on and observe the way in which these recommendations of the Lords Commissioners were dealt with when they came before His Majesty George III. That is at page 915. Lord Egremont writes back to the Lords of Trade and says : “ My Lords, Your Report, dated the 8th of last Month, having been laid before the King, and His Majesty having taken the same into consideration ; I am, in consequence thereof, to acquaint your Lordships, That the King approves the erecting three New Governments in North America, under the denominations your Lordships propose, of Canada,
2 P 2

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East Florida, and West Florida ; But, with regard to the limits of these Governments, as described in the Report, and marked out in the Chart thereunto annexed; Altho' His Majesty entirely concurs in your Lordships Idea, of not permitting any Grant of Lands, or New Settlements to be made, for the present, beyond the Bounds proposed by your Lordships ; Yet the King thinks, that great Inconveniences might arise, from so large a Tract of Land being left, without being subject to the Civil Jurisdiction of some Governor, in virtue of His Majesty's Commission, under the Great Seal of Great Britain.”
Now my friends on the other side, if I may speculate, I think show some signs, not indeed in their Case, it never occurred to them, but in their Counter Case, of arguing that a passage like that refers to the interior of my green. It is quite obvious, I venture to submit, if you read the thing in its due order, that it refers to nothing of the kind. It refers to the Indian country round the Great Lakes which according to the scheme of the Lords of Trade was not going to be included within the Province of Quebec. It affords no ground or basis at all for arguing that the coast of Labrador means anything other than what Lord North thought it meant. The passage goes on : “ And that (besides the difficulties there might be, for want of such a Civil Jurisdiction, in bringing to justice criminals, and fugitives, who may take refuge in that country) their not being included within some established Government might, in time to come, furnish matter of dispute, with regard to the property : And other powers, who might hereafter find means of access to those countries, might take possession thereof, as derelict lands.”
The very fact that he thinks that by some means or other people might get to these countries, shows that he is talking about this area in the heart of America.

Viscount HALDANE : The importance of it is that they seem to say that the view of the King is that it means, do not divide it up completely and entirely, but divide it over the interior of these areas enough to enable someone to keep the peace.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Very nearly that, my Lord. Might I respectfully suggest, as I have read the document through, that it perhaps can be put this way. It is very much what your Lordship has said. The King here is saying : “ You propose a boundary of Quebec and you propose that the Indian country round the Great Lakes shall be left outside the Province of Quebec.” The King is here saying : “ I think it would be a better plan to treat the Indian country as separate from the Province of Quebec.” He says : “ I do not mean by that, that I think you ought to allow the grants of private land and settlements to colonials of the whole of the Indian country.” That, your Lordships appreciate, would have been a very gross breach of the Treaties and bargains that had been made with the Iroquois and these other great native tribes who are round the Great Lakes. He says : “ I am not suggesting you should allow the whole country to be open for colonisa–

p. 277

tion in that sense ; I think it should be within the jurisdiction of Quebec.”

Lord SUMNER: At lines 12 and 13 he says : “ and other powers, who might hereafter find means of access to these countries, might take possession thereof, as derelict lands.” The interior of Labrador is bounded by Hudson's Bay, the Labrador coast, and the interior of Quebec, not to mention ice, an interior of no real value to anybody ; what likelihood was there of any other power taking possession of it or staying there?

Sir JOHN SIMON : My Lord, it is perfectly plain. This document refers to the fact that there was means of access or there might develop means of access to these rich lands which at present formed the middle west of the United States, and on that side the thing was not boxed in : but to say that he was talking about this little green area of mine is really quite preposterous. He goes on at line 14 : “ The King therefore is of Opinion, that, in the Commission for the Governor of Canada, all the Lakes, viz., Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior, should be included, with all the Country, as far North, and West, as the limits of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Mississipi ; And also that all Lands whatsoever, ceded by the late Treaty, and which are not already included within the Limits of His Majesty's ancient Colonies, or intended to form the Governments of East and West Florida, as described in your Lordships Report, be assigned to the Government of Canada.” I am going to ask your Lordships, if you will, to turn to Mitchell's Map. If your Lordships would not mind having spread out perhaps one copy of the big map of Mitchell in the Canadian Atlas No. 11, you will see I think exactly what it was that King George III had in his mind and was expressing in this passage. It is such a big map that I hardly think your Lordships will want to have more than one copy. As I told your Lordships, there is a copy of this map—not indeed quite as reproduced in the Canadian Atlas—in the British Museum, which comes from the library of King George III, and we must remember that there are marks on this map which had not been made, and could not have been made, at the time of the document. We are now reading, 1763. For example. there are marks upon it which describe the boundary as described by Mr. Oswald. That was Mr. Richard Oswald, merchant and politician, who was the Commissioner for Great Britain when, in 1872, there was negotiated the Teaty which separated the United States from British soil ; so, of course, that is all afterwards. This map was made by this most distinguished man of science, Mr. Mitchell, in 1755, and it is known to have been the most authoritative map of the period. Now would your Lordships first do something which is always difficult to do to a big map. The bigger the lettering the more difficult it is to see it. Would your Lordships kindly observe in the green area which is to the east and south–east of the Mississippi, you will find across the green area in very big letters “ SIX ” and then “ NATIONS ”

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and then just below “ OF ” and then “ INDIANS.” As a matter of fact, as Lord Haldane made this point the other day, it had been the policy of the British in the Continent of North America to deal with the Indians on this basis, that they made treaties, that they got cessions of territory and the like, secured them in their hunting grounds, and took particular care to observe very strictly the arrangements they had made. There had been, for instance, a treaty or contract or compact in 1711 ; there had had been another one in 1722 ; there were three or four more throughout the century. There was a very well–known one with the Indians which was called the Treaty of Easton or Eastown ; and it was a fixed policy in North America at that time that in respect of the area, which was at that time a populous area, principally occupied by these very powerful tribes of Indians, the Iroquois and others, you made treaties with them, and this boundary which your Lordships will see is also marked as “ boundary line between the English and French territories,” is a boundary which had more significance in connection with the Indian reservations.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : It is not “ Six Nations of Indians,” is it? It is “ Six Nations or Iroquois.”

Sir .JOHN SIMON: I beg your Lordship's pardon, that is right : “ Six Nations or Iroquois.”

Lord SUMNER : There were six separate tribes, but they were all Iroquois.

Sir .JOHN SIMON : There were, my Lord, and then there came to be a seventh and then there came to be an eighth, and there is a very interesting history attaching to this if we had to go into it.

Viscount FINLAY : They were said to be the ablest and most enterprising of the Indians.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord. Would your Lordship look at the blue which runs side by side with the red, south of Lake Michigan, just under the word “ Boundary ”? You will see this inscription : “ Western bounds of the Six Nations sold and surrendered to Great Britain.”

Viscount FINLAY : Where is that exactly?

Sir JOHN SIMON : I have a little difficulty in saying it by word of mouth, but if your Lordship would take the south of Lake Michigan you will see that running through it is a band of red and blue. It is buried in the blue which is below ; it is in rather small print, but it is there all right. I will read it again ; it begins nearly at the junction of the Mississippi ; if you go to the junction of that line with the Mississippi, it is really the Ohio and Mississippi, you will see “ Western bounds Six Nations sold and surrendered to Great Britain.”

p. 279

It is not the Ohio River ; it is the River Illinois. The thing which will make it quite plain and well founded will be this. You will also see on the light green a note printed just below where you last looked, to this effect :—“ The Six Nations have extended their territories to the River Illinois ever since the year 1672, when they subdued and were incorporated with the ancient Chaouanons, the native proprietors of these countries, and the River Ohio. Besides which they likewise claim a right of conquest over the Illinois, and all the Mississippi as far as they extend. This is confirmed by their own claims and possessions in 1742, which include all the bounds here laid down ” and so forth. There is an immense history about this, but it is really not material. I only want to make the point perfectly clear—and I believe it can be overwhelmingly established from all sorts of communications—that the Indian country, the country that King George III and his advisers were talking about, has nothing in the world to do with the interior of my green area.

Lord SUMNER : Probably it is the case that the political policy concerned has confined itself to Indian country which lay between this country of the old authorities and the line of the Great Lakes which had long been explored from Quebec. But there is another aspect, is there not, in the possible humanitarian motive, even in the eighteenth century, in the interests of the savages themselves. The Esquimaux lived on the caribou, and the caribou was a migratory animal very difficult to follow up. If the interior of Labrador was not left undisturbed the Esquimaux might suffer, just as the Indians ultimately suffered by the extinction of the buffalo, And I think it is a fact that there was an annual movement of the Esquimaux into the interior to try to find the herd, and if they did not find the herd they starved. It may have been that some of the statesmen even in King George III's time might have been somewhat concerned for these people.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I think it is but justice to the memory of those statesmen to say that again and again through this volume you can see whether, as a matter of high policy, or as a matter of humane feeling, there cannot be the slightest question that they wished to provide this Indian country both from their own and the Indian point of view.

Lord SUMNER : I think the Indian country appears to have very Lord Sumner. little reference indeed to the interior of the Peninsula of Labrador, but at the same time the policy of leaving the country for the Indians may have had some effect.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It may. I rather suspect your Lordships will form the view when you have heard this case out that so far as the Coast of Labrador in my sense is concerned the thing really was of such trumpery importance as compared with these very important matters round the Great Lakes and Quebec, that really, once you have provided for the question of Labrador going to Newfoundland, there was nothing

[1927lab]




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