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 Finlay.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Macmillan.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.

28 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.




p. 290

Viscount HALDANE : It is like the construction of a Treaty, you look into everything.

Sir JOHN SIMON : What I am going to say is, I think, a legitimate illustration of the meaning of the expression “ The Coasts.” That is what I am upon. If you have before you Mr. Bellin's map of 1755, No. 12, you will find that on page 6—I will hand the book, if I may, to the Lord Chancellor, I have made my notes sufficiently for the purpose. (Original book handed to the Lord Chancellor.) He is expounding his map, and he says on page 6 he divides North America into six principal parts, and he says he is going to discuss them in six sections of his hook. I am relying now rather on my recollection, but I think that is how it runs. The word actually, I think, is six “ articles.” The interesting thing is to see how does he break up the Continent of America because these six things put together will make the Continent of North America as he knows it, and as you see it in his map. This is the way he does it. First, Hudson's Bay and the neighbouring country, which would include that part which Lord Sumner observed marked on the map “ Unknown ” and so on. You notice he has got on his map the Hudson's Bay Territory traced round with a line half yellow and half green, which, as your Lordships observed before, is really running on the heights of land, that is his first area. He cuts that out. Now, secondly, New France or Canada. He gives the two names ; he is going to say in a moment, in the text, something about Newfoundland and Labrador, but it is all included in his second compartment. Now, thirdly, this my Lord is what I should like your Lordships very much to observe. Perhaps Lord Finlay would observe it as the book is within reach of him. He is going on in the third compartment to deal with this : “ Les Côtes Orientales de l'Amérique.” It is one of his 6 divisions, he is going to describe it :—“ depuis l'Acadie jusqu'à la Floride, contenant les pays possédés par les Anglois, entre les Montagnes des Apalaches & l'Ocean.” There you have a perfectly good contemporary illustration of what I conceive to be, and what such researches as we have made on the maps and otherwise show was constantly done at the time ; he is in terms saying now there is another section on the map which I have marked and he describes it as “ The Coasts.”

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON : It is in the plural?

Sir JOHN SIMON : He says : “ Les Cotes,” the eastern coasts of America ; if you look at his map you see it is as a matter of fact that yellow area lying between Nova Scotia and Georgia, being in fact what used to he known as the ancient Colony and carrying them back to the height of land which means the Allegany's at the top and the Apalaches further down. I care nothing at all whether the range of mountains is as a matter of fact straight as indicated on that map or not. All I am saying is : How can anybody feel a difficulty in believing that the coast of Labrador between certain points runs back to the height of land

p. 291

when it is perfectly plain in the language of geographers at the time breaking up the whole solid continent of North America into pieces, this, is to be described, just as you describe New France as a unit or Hudson's Bay as a unit, as “ Les Cotes Orientale.” Then he goes on : “ (4) Florida ; (5) Louisiana ”—you will notice how striking it is here—Florida is edged pink, a separate area, and then Louisiana is to be found marked in the north west of the pink and lastly “ (6) New Mexico and neighbouring countries.” Nouveau Mexique is marked there with the great river running down, but the outlet of it is not shown.

Viscount HALDANE : Do you rely on this as showing that the territory of Labrador extended up to the height of land?

Sir JOHN SIMON : I do, by analogy. I am saying so far as we are at liberty to inform our minds, what in the ordinary acceptation of the term “ All the Coasts ” meant in that sort of connection. It is not without value to observe that a most distinguished geographer and writer at the time is in express terms saying if you were to take a fretwork saw and were to divide the Continent of North America into six parts and were to take this block, that is : “ Les Cotes de 1'Amerique,” between two points on the sea border exactly as I say, the Coasts of America run back to the height of land between two points.

Viscount HALDANE : It does not say to whom the great Continent of Labrador belongs ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : No, for the moment I am only dealing with it as an analogy.

Viscount FINLAY : You are merely dealing with the point that this mode of dividing up the country was a natural system which presented itself as the best way for a geographer.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : It is before the Treaty of Paris.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It is before the Treaty of Paris ; it is 1755. I have nothing to do with political boundaries ; I am merely dealing with nomenclature.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : You have got a rather strong expression on page 26. It says : “ Les Cotes de Labrador, Grand et vaste Pays.”

Sir JOHN SIMON : I marked it. Perhaps your Lordship would like to take an intermediate one, if you would take page 18 your Lordship will find he refers to Greenland ; he knew nothing about Greenland, but he distinguishes in the case of Greenland. He divides Greenland into two parts, and he says on page 18 that the “ Cote Occidentale,” the
2 R 2
\
p. 292

western coast of Greenland is called New Greenland. Now, if you would look at the map you will see where he writes “ Nouveau Greenland.”

Viscount HALDANE : At this date who would Greenland belong to?

Sir JOHN SIMON : I think at this date it was Danish. Perhaps you would notice on page 27, where he does deal with Labrador, the Lord Chancellor's eye will catch the page, if I remember rightly he says there—he knows a good deal about it—“ Between Cape Charles and St. Augustine the Coast of Labrador is watered by many rivers some of them considerable.” Now if you turn to page 71 there is incidental proof of what was understood by the “ Indian country ” at the time. He really was a very well–informed geographer—this man.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : He says Labrador means “ Terre du laboureur,” which he says was given to it by the Spanish.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Some say Spanish and some say Portuguese.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : The French had the sole rights in this area,

Sir JOHN SIMON : If you turn on to page 71, although this is on a topic which I have already dealt with (it is only an incident), you will find he says : “ On Lake Superior there is a Bourgade of Indians,”—a large town of Indians—“ which has become very large,” and he gives the names of the tribes of Indians, they are extraordinary names including names like Illinois and Hurons. They were established there for trading The whole context in which he uses this expression “ Les Cotes ”—he uses it again and again—goes, I submit, to show really there was not any straining of language at all ; on the contrary it was a perfectly natural thing at any rate at the time to describe “ all the Coasts of Labrador,” without troubling yourself further, as meaning whatever area would ultimately be found, which sloped down to the water's edge. Your Lordship has in mind that expression : “ The natural boundaries ” which occurs in one of the documents I have read.

Now, my Lords, I have occupied your Lordships' patience I am afraid very long, and I wish to make good my word and resist all temptation for saying anything more now, and I will submit, if I may, the propositions or the submissions.

Viscount HALDANE : Have you copies ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, if your Lordship will allow me, of course, I shall be very happy to read them out and hand in copies. We have taken a little pains about it. You may even find that the 9 propositions can be reduced. They have been checked and I hope they will not be found very wrong. (Copies handed in.)

I have put it in this form, I am conscious, of course, by using these

p. 293

phrases I may unwittingly be reviving points of discussion and controversy, but I have tried to put them in language which covers all I am urging. First : “ The document primarily to be construed, which is the root of the title of Newfoundland, is Governor Graves' Commission of April 25th., 1763—‘ all the coasts of Labrador.’”

The LORD CHANCELLOR : “ cf.” I take it means “ compare ?”

Sir JOHN SIMON : “ cf.” is meant to be “ compare ”—“ cf. in the same document the phrase ‘ the coasts of territories of Labrador.’” It should be “ or territories ” not “ the coasts of territories.”

Viscount HALDANE : It makes a difference, it should be “ or territories ? ”

Sir JOHN SIMON : It really is “ the coasts and territories.”

Viscount HALDANE : It is really “ and.”

Sir JOHN SIMON : “ And ” is right. The expression is to be found on page 151 at line 31. I will not go back on the argument.

Mr. MACMILLAN : My only objection to these statements is that these are not submissions, they contain argumentative matter as well.

Viscount HALDANE : They sum up the argument as well.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I can quite understand submissions and propositions being handed in, that is rather helpful, but I rather resent parts of arguments being put in for emphasis.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Why ? Sir John is here to argue this, if he likes to put them in writing, so much the better. It really would be impossible to submit points otherwise.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I thought it was a series of propositions my friend was making.

Sir JOHN SIMON : My friend, Mr. Macmillan, no doubt is using “ propositions ” as meaning propositions of law. I did not intend that. There is a good deal more to be said I am afraid, which I have not said, about the contents of this Commission and many of the other things, which are stongly in my favour. Then 2. “ After the area which had thus been annexed to the Government of Newfoundland had been taken away in 1774, and had been ”—I quote the words “ re–annexed to the Government of Newfoundland ”—“ in 1809, it was declared by the Statute of 1825 to be expedient ‘ that certain parts of the said coast of Labrador should be re–annexed to and form part of the Province of Lower Canada ’

p. 294

and so much of the coast as lies to the Westward of a line drawn due North from Anse Sablon to the 52nd parallel was re–annexed to and made part of the Province of Lower Canada and was thenceforward to be ‘subject to the laws of the said Province and none other.’” Now, my Lord, this is the submission. “ This treats the area transferred as cut out of a larger whole, so that the line of the 52nd parallel which forms the Northern Boundary of the area re–transferred must be regarded as lying within ‘ the coast of Labrador.’” That is the argument on the Statute of 1825. Then thirdly : “ The re–transfer of 1825 necessarily involved a corresponding reduction in the area administered by the Government of Newfoundland, and the language of the Commission to Sir Thomas Cochrane ”—which I called attention to—“ shows that his jurisdiction immediately to the East of Anse Sablon ran inland at least to the 52nd parallel.” If I may illustrate the thing for a moment on this plasticene model, if any occasion arose for the exercise of jurisdiction, let us say 35 miles inland immediately to the east of that meridian which is to run up to the 52nd parallel, can anybody doubt that Sir Thomas Cochrane and his judicial authorities would have the jurisdiction to deal with it. That is all I meant.
The LORD CHANCELLOR : He was to be Governor of Labrador from Hudson's Straits to the line drawn north and south of Anse Sablon.

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is right. Against me it is suggested that this is nothing more than a finger post, to which I can only respectfully say it is the longest finger post I have ever heard of to indicate a point.

Viscount HALDANE : It is suggested that that only deals with coasts.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I know. I follow the suggestion. I am merely here to put one side of the argument.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : But it is down to the 52nd degree of latitude.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Which was known at the time (for instance Mitchell's map and the like) to involve a very deep cutting into the land.

Viscount HALDANE : Undoubtedly.

Sir JOHN SIMON : One asks oneself why 52nd? Then 4: “ The most authoratitive maps available at the time (e.g. Mitchell, 1755, Canadian Atlas No. 11, Bellin, 1755, Newfoundland Atlas No, 12) indicated that the headwaters of the River St. John would be found approximately in latitude 52 or slightly further north, and consequently the Northern Boundary of the area re–annexed to Quebec in 1825 would reach approximately the apex of the original North Eastern corner of

[1927lab]




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