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.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.




p. 280

more to be said. Would your Lordships turn to page 28 of the same set of maps for a moment, and note what you have already seen. You have got there, of course, an Indian country vaguely indicated. See how striking it is when you are told that the country in question will be sufficiently described if you say that it is bounded on the west by the Mississippi, bounded on the north by the Hudson's Bay territory, and bounded on the east by the boundaries of the Government of Quebec, which is my yellow lozenge, and your Majesty's Ancient Colonies. “ Ancient Colonies ” means, your Lordships remember, that band of coast colonies which run down from Nova Scotia, New England, and so forth. That does, as a matter of fact, roughly enclose an area, and you will find in a moment that that is the very language which is used to describe the Indian country in the documents we are dealing with. They say we need not be too precise about its boundaries. It is quite enough to say you will find it shut in between the Mississippi, the Hudson's Bay territory, the new Government of Quebec and your Majesty's Ancient Colonies. That gives you, at any rate, an indication of an area which certainly does not touch the green area I am interested in.
If I may go back to the document, there is very little in this one that matters. It was one of the eases where King George III took one view and the Lords of Trade took another, and in the end the King gave up his view and the view of the Lords of Trade was the view which was adopted. We were reading at page 916. After having spoken of these matters there is a reference at the bottom of page 916, line 35, to the King's decision to appoint the Honourable James Murray to be Governor of Canada, and so on ; and on the next page you will get the phrase “ the Ancient Colonies ” which occurs again and again. It was a perfectly well understood phrase at that time. It meant those colonies on the Atlantic seaboard. Then a little lower down, line 19, it says : “ His Majesty thinks it highly proper, that the Agents for Indian Affairs should correspond with your Lordships, in regard to the Indian Country.” That being the view which is communicated to the Lords of Trade by the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, Lord Egremont, as being the Royal judgment, you get the highly respectful reply of the Lords of Trade on page 919. “ May it please your Majesty— In obedience to your Majesty's commands contained in a letter from the Earl of Egremont, dated the 14th of July last, signifying to us your Majesty's most gracious approbation of our idea, that that large tract of country ”—would your Lordships observe these words—“ bounded by the Mississippi and the limits of the Hudson Bay Company on the one hand and on the other by the limits of Canada ”—that means the lozenge of Quebec, whatever it is—“ East and West Florida and His Majesty's ancient Colonies, should for the present be made subject to no grants of lands nor to any settlements.” I attach great importance to the geographical comprehension of what is there said. It seems to me to be perfectly clear, therefore, that the subject matter is something which does not touch my green area at all. In those days the assumption was that if you went up the Mississippi to its actual source you would reach the height of land, and reach a point where you would begin to

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go down to the Hudson's Bay. Therefore, to trace it to this top of the Mississippi was the same thing the same thin as to strike the Hudson's Bay country. Your Lordships recollect we have already had that in another connection. That gives you, therefore, a complete enclosure on that side. If you run up the Mississippi to its source you will he impinging upon the Hudson's Bay country. The other enclosures are to be the limits of Canada—that is Quebec ; they called it Canada at first—and then, going a little out of the order because East and West Florida is going to the other end, you have East and West Florida, and the gap in the hedge is filled up by His Majesty's ancient Colonies. That is the area they are talking about. They say that is their idea, and they go on to say : “ But acquainting us, that it was your Majesty's pleasure, that it should be put under some civil jurisdiction, by a Commission under the Great Seal of Great Britain, so as to prevent any objection ”—and so on—and then the Lords of Trade take a very good point. This is an interesting piece of politics. This is what they say, if my Lords will let me put it in my own way in a sentence. They say, we quite understand your Majesty's notion, but there is this objection. If we did that, it might be argued hereafter that this immense area of the Indian country was British soil by a title which wa[s] derived from the French. They say that is quite untrue. Our title to it is quite independent of the French. It is really due to a series of contracts, purchases and treaties, made with Indian tribes. That is the reason they do not like the idea. At the bottom of page 919 they say : ‘ We are apprehensive that, should this country be annexed to the Government of Canada, a colour might be taken on some future occasion, for supposing that your Majesty's title to it, had taken its rise, singly from the cessions made by France, in the late Treaty, whereas Your Majesty's title to the Lakes ”—observe the expression “ Lakes ”—“ and circumjacent territory as well as to the sovereignty over the Indian tribes, particularly of the Six Nations,”—the first is geographical, the second is a matter of jurisdiction—“ rests on a more solid and even a more equitable foundation ;and perhaps nothing is more necessary than that just impressions on this subject should be carefully preserved in the minds of the Indians.” etc.

Lord SUMNER : It is a subject on which just impressions should be preserved in the minds of the Indians whether the title is derived by cessions and conquest, or whether it is derived from themselves by treaties.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes. It goes on : “ whose ideas might be blended and confounded, if they should be brought to consider themselves as under the Government of Canada.” There was this much in it of a more solid kind ; that since the Government of Canada was going to have what one might call a French complexion it might be a matter of most practical politics that these great Indian tribes accustomed to regard themselves as the allies and friends of Britain and who had taken part in the fighting against France, should not be put in a position where it might
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be supposed they were being grouped with the French element. There was that much in it. Then they give other reasons which do not matter much, and they therefore argue for their own view.
Now at the bottom of page 921 you see a striking proof of the fact that it is quite unjust to suppose George III an obstinate man. There Lord Egremont says :—“ My Lords . . . I am commanded to acquaint your Lordships that his Majesty, upon consideration of the reasons therein set forth, is pleased to lay aside the idea of including within the Government of Canada, or of any established Colony, the lands which are to be reserved, for the present, for the use of the Indians.” The phrase three lines from the bottom of the page is “ lay aside.” This, though an interesting topic, is really only faintly relevant. The only point that matters is that I should satisfy your Lordships—really it is a matter rather for the other side than for me—that the lands which are to be reserved for the use of the Indians, or the Indian country, or the area surrounded by the Mississippi boundary, the Hudson's Bay, his Majesty's ancient Colonies, and the Government of Quebec, is not my green.

Viscount HALDANE : Tell me what office Lord Halifax filled.

Sir JOHN SIMON : If your Lordship will turn to the bottom of page 923 there is a note which informs you as to that matter. “ Lord Egremont died suddenly from apoplexy, and the Earl of Halifax temporarily took over the duties of the department, being formally transferred to the Southern Department about September 9th.”

Viscount HALDANE : He was Secretary of State for the Northern Department. I suppose really what he did was this. The Southern Department had been in the hands of Lord Egremont, and the Southern Department was really advising the King, and it was thought necessary that the King should have a Minister who could independently take his instructions.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I may suggest to your Lordship, who knows the practice about Secretaries of State very well ; that it is an illustration of the ancient constitutional principle that any one Secretary of State can sign any document for any other. If I may venture to say so, a former Home Secretary remembers very well that he was probably the last person who ever signed a document for Lord Kitchener, because when the Secretary of State for War was out of the country some other Secretary of State had to sign the document. Of course, it was prepared in the War Department. It is a well known constitutional principle that the King has one Secretary of State who is divided into several persons. I trust you will think I have made good my point sufficiently for the moment, that this attempt to treat the Indian lands as though they had anything to do with my case will be found completely to break down. I have a lot of other material I might give, but I think I have probably done it sufficiently.

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I will give your Lordships one more reference which perhaps will clinch it. It is at page 1104. That is a document headed “ Proposed Extension of Provincial Limits,” and it is a commentary explaining what you find at the beginning of page 1099, namely a draught of the Quebec Bill.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : About what time is this ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : In 1774. It is the year of the Quebec Act. There is a draught of the Quebec Bill on page 1099, and, then on the following pages, page 1104 and so on, you get a sort of commentary. Will your Lordships look at the bottom of page 1104, line 23. You will see there the official view. “ The King's servants were induced to confine the Government of Quebec within the above limits ”—that is referring back to something which had taken place eleven years before—“ from an apprehension that there were no settlements of Canadian subjects, or lawful possessions beyond those limits, and from a hope of being able to carry into execution a plan that was then under consideration for putting the whole of the Interior Country to the westward of our Colonies”—that means our ancient Colonies—“ under one general control and regulation by Act of Parliament.”

Viscount HALDANE : That seems to be a plan for putting the whole of the west under a new Government.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It was so. If your Lordship reads the earlier documents you will see that is involved. The idea was that Quebec should be my lozenge–shaped area, and that the area to the west of the ancient Colonies, the Indian country, the area between the Mississippi, Hudson's Bay, and our ancient Colonies, should be under an administration separate from the Government of Quebec. The only point I am making is that it is treated, as your Lordship sees, as something separate. As a matter of fact, the Indian territories were to be under the administration of a Commissioner for Indian Affairs. There were two Commissioners, the southern one and the northern one.

Viscount HALDANE : Were they local ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, they were there. It is a very striking fact that the country we are here referring to is put under the jurisdiction of the southern one, which again is a proof that it has nothing to do with Esquimaux dressed up in furs, or an occasional Indian pursuing an animal on the Labrador coast. It has to do with the noble Red Man, the noble Savage, who at that time formed a numerous and very important body in the great interior of America That for the moment will make that point sufficiently, I think.
I have only one other reference which I wish to make in the book, and only one other reference I wish to make to a map, and then if
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your Lordships will allow me I should like to conclude my submissions here by offering to the Board the summary of submissions which we seek at this stage to make. We have been at some pains to reduce them into order, and I have got them on paper, and if your Lordships think it well, that paper will be available. I have put them into nine short sentences.

Viscount HALDANE : I think we had better have copies of them.

Sir JOHN SIMON : When the time comes I will offer them to your Lordships. There is one other reference which I wish to make in the book itself. I want to make good this point, though I do not think it is disputed. It is suggested against me that the only thing on the Mainland of Labrador that the Governor of Newfoundland had was the Admiralty jurisdiction and the general looking after the fisheries from what you may call the sailor's point of view. That is the suggestion against me, and it is said that there was not, as I suggest there was, a second and independent thing, namely a territorial jurisdiction over a substantial area going back to the height of land, which I call the Coast of Labrabor.

Viscount HALDANE : I think you must not assume that the dilemma which Canada seeks to put on your area is exhaustive. There may be a very large coastal territory under the name of “ Coasts.” How it is to be drawn may be a question. But that is a very long way from 110,000 square miles.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Certainly. It may be that those who advise the Government of Canada are in this matter like Commissioner Bladen at the Treaty of Utrecht, and are asking for a great deal more than they think they are entitled to or expect to get. But after all, that will come afterwards. I am not for the moment talking about the miles. All I am saying is that my ease is that over and above the naval supervision and all the jurisdiction which attaches to that which undoubtedly was primarily in the jurisdiction exercised by the Governor of Newfoundland, my case, right or wrong, is that there was as between 1763 and 1774 a second subject matter which I may call territorial. Now what happened in 1774 ? What happened was admittedly that the area under the Government of the Governor of Quebec was very greatly enlarged. But the striking fact is that though the area under the government of Quebec was enlarged in that way, which seemed to swallow up my former territorial area, the duty on the part of the Governor of Newfoundland of continuing to watch over the fisheries and stop people trespassing and doing things they should not do, remained exactly the same. That seems a strong reason for saying that there is something quite over and above the mere supervision of the fisheries, a separate subject matter—X I will call it, because it may not be as much as 110,000 square miles—something which is passed to the Governor of Quebec and then is passed back at a later stage to the Governor of Newfoundland.

[1927lab]




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