The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

p. 413

Viscount HALDANE : I observe from the photographs nearly every where the land falls sharply to the sea.

Mr. MACMILLAN : It is shown very well here, in the northern part it certainly does most of the way, it is pretty abrupt : But the interior land is not a place where there is a great divide or ridges, and these Indians took no cognizance of the height of land or anything of that sort, because they roamed over the whole of this interior territory, these were their hunting lands where they got their skins, which they brought down to trade at St. Lawrence, and somtimes they went to Hudson's Bay, sometimes they went down to the posts on the Hamilton Inlet or on Lake Melville, therefore, you have got here a well–recognised Indian population, and my Lord, if that is so, what became of these people under this new regime. The Governor of Newfoundland has had no instructions as to granting licences or preventing the settlement in these Indian territories—were their hunting grounds at mercy ? Could any person get the lands of the Montagnais and Nascaupees while he could not get an inch of land in the six nations—in any of the others. All the provisions you remember of the Proclamation, the anxious provisions of the Proclamation of 1763, on my learned friend's view have no application whatever to the unhappy Indians of Labrador, and of course he can say that with comfort because he thought there were only a few Esquimaux there. He had not realised that we were dealing here with tribes whose existence was brought prominently before the authors of the Proclamation by General Murray's report upon them of 1762, which was expressly remitted to the authors of the Proclamation. The unhappy Governor of Newfoundland finding himself charged, on my learned friend's hypothesis, with all the Montagnais and Nascaupees—all their affairs now subject to him—could grant no licenses to trade with them, he could if he pleased, I suppose, have made grants of land there because the embargo upon Indian land in the Proclamation had no application to him. The whole code of the proclamation for the protection of the hunting grounds of the Indians had no application to the Governor of Newfoundland and found no place in his Commission.
This is one of those small things which so often are rather indicative of the truth. When you look at the instructions to the Newfoundland Governor you find that he is to preserve liberty of conscience in religious matters for everybody except Papists. I will give you the reference to that because it is a little unfortunate for the poor catholic Montagnais who were apparently to be persecuted by the newly imported Governor. It is in volume 2 at page 423. I will take this en passant, it is not a very big point, but sometimes these things are a little significant. The instructions to Hugh Palliser, Governor of Newfoundland, at page 423 in Article 21 are as follows : “ You are to permit a free exercise of Religion to all persons, except Papists.”

The LORD CHANCELLOR : It is the same thing in Captain Graves' Commission.

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Mr. MACMILLAN : It is the same thing in Captain Graves' Instructions. I have my reference to Captain Graves' Instructions.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I noticed it the other day.

Mr. MACMILLAN : You observe the unhappy Governor of Newfoundland, amongst other unpleasant duties in his situation, was bound to break the Capitulation of Montreal. I will now give you the Articles of Capitulation. Turning to volume 6, page 2754. here are the Articles of Capitulation of Montreal, the 40th Article in the Articles of Capitulalation [sic] of Montreal reads as follows : “ The Savages or Indian allies of his most Christian Majesty, shall be maintained in the Lands they inhabit ; if they chuse to remain there ; they shall not be molested on any pretence whatsoever, for having carried arms, and served his most Christian Majesty ; they shall have, as well as the French, liberty of religion, and shall keep their missionaries. The actual Vicars–General, and the Bishop, when the Episcopal see shall be filled, shall have leave to send to them new Missionaries when they shall judge it necessary.–‘ Granted except the last article, which has been already refused.’” That is about Vicars–General, and so on. But they were to have the same freedom of religion as the French. Your Lordship remembers how important that was in connection with the new Government of Quebec. Not only so, but in the instructions to the Governor of Quebec, in Murray's instructions and also in Carleton's instructions, attention is specially drawn to this matter of religion. In Volume II, page 772, article 28, are the instructions to Governor Murray, Governor of Quebec. “And whereas we have stipulated, by the late Definitive Treaty of Peace concluded at Paris the 10th day of February 1763, to grant the liberty of the Catholick Religion to the inhabitants of Canada, and that we will consequently give the most precise and most effectual orders, that our new Roman Catholic subjects in that Province may profess the worship of their religion, according to the rites of the Romish Church as far as the laws of Great Britain permit. It is therefore our Will and Pleasure, that you do, in all things regarding the said inhabitants, conform with great exactness to the stipulations of the said Treaty in this respect.” But the Governor of Newfoundland was not to tolerate papists, and the Governor of Newfoundland found himself suddenly the Governor of the Montagnais, an excellent Indian tribe, industrious, and engaged in the fur trade, accustomed to go down to the St. Lawrence for the purpose of getting goods, and to be administered to by a Jesuit priest. They were not to be tolerated by the Governor of New foundland, because he was to extend no tolerance to papists. His new subjects were actually to a very large extent papists, in so far as the Montagnais were papists, and that was their only religion. He was not to tolerate papacy among them. It is not manifest that the whole code of Indian Administration which was appropriate for the Quebec side. had nothing whatever to do with the Newfoundland side

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of this matter. When they were thinking of cod and whale and sea–cows and how these might best be got, and how that fishery might best be protected, they were never thinking of questions of administration, and difficult questions of administration, such as arise when an Indian territory is taken over, and when its tribes have to be administered. The Governor of Newfoundland, I submit, was never entrusted with the administration of the affairs of the Montagnais, and never given a territorial jurisdiction over this whole territory, including the green territory, where these Indian tribes were housed, I suggest that that argument could only have been submitted to your Lordships upon the apprehension, which I think must have been a mistake, that this Indian country had to do with a few Esquimax up here in Labrador. There must be some mistake about that.
That being so, I have shown to your Lordships that there was here a very important Indian settlement of roving Indians, with hunting grounds extending all through this green territory, accustomed to wander round about this plateau, without any regard to the height of land whatever, and who came down from Hudson's Bay to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or sometimes eastward to the outlet of the North West River, with their trades, on their annual migrations. These people were for the most part natives accustomed to the ministrations of the Jesuit missionaries, and they were in touch with Canada from the earliest days. Those were the people they knew, and no others. But apparently, if my friend is right, they have been transferred together with a large part of their hunting grounds to the regime of this naval officer on board his ship—the Governor of Newfoundland. I suggest to your Lordships that that is exceedingly improbable. If I have established that there was an Indian population to be catered for and to be governed, and that the Governor of Quebec was the person to whom those duties were entrusted, then I have gone a very long way indeed to displace my learned friend from the height of land. In my friend's Jigsaw puzzle—I hope I shall be pardoned for calling it so—in which he had different bits put in, I am going to put in another bit. We know that so often in trying to do these puzzles there is a bit you cannot fit in anywhere, and my friend could not fit in one bit. I am going to fit it in for him. There is the Indian reservation. Looking back to the terms of the Proclamation, look at the position. He says there is no tertium quid, but there is. The tertium quid is largely composed of this green area which he says was Newfoundland. This was all reserved. How ? If you look at Volume I, page 156, we have these words : “And we do further declare it to be our Royal will and pleasure, for the present as aforesaid, to reserve under our sovereignty, protection, and dominion, for the use of the said Indians, all the land and territories not included within the limits of our said three new governments, or within the limits of the territory granted to the Hudson's Bay Company ”—I omit the next words because I think it is now agreed they have no application—“ and we do hereby strictly
3 K

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forbid, on pain of our displeasure, all our loving subjects from making any purchases or settlements whatever, or taking possession of any of the lands above reserved, without our especial leave and licence for that purpose first obtained.” Then the next article enjoins everybody to remove from those reserved areas.
My Lords, if you look at the preamble of that, the reason is given again at the top of page 156. “And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our interest and the security of our colonies, that the several nations or tribes of Indians with whom we are connected, and who live under our protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the possession of such parts of our dominions and territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by us, are reserved to them, or any of them. as their hunting–grounds ”—therefore these Crown reservations of Indian territory are created with that motive. Were the Montagnais not protected ? Were the Naskapis not protected ? Surely they were brought within the ambit of this protection. They were not entirely in Quebec, though some of them did come down into the Province of Quebec ; and they were certainly not entirely in Hudson's Bay territory ; and the territory contemplated here is Indian, not in Quebec and not in Hudson's Bay territory.
Now where are these Indians ? These Indians are, among others, the Montagnais and the Naskapis, and therefore it is perfectly plain that there is something reserved for those Indians in this territory. My learned friend had one piece of his puzzle, the yellow piece, which he found difficulty in fitting into his scheme, and he said that might be an Indian corridor. I am afraid that is a little too ingenious. A corridor of that sort is no particular use to roving Indians whose hunting grounds extend over the whole of the hinterland area, and they would be little benefited by a stretch of territory of that sort as a hunting ground for the Indians, to which the language of this embargo should apply. In any case, if that were all the territory to which this language were to apply, the whole of the green, on my friend's view, would be exempt from it, and the unhappy Indians there would not be permitted to practice the rites of their religion because, being papists, they would not be under the liberty of conscience clause in the Governor of Newfoundland's instructions, and apparently they would not be protected by any of the other clauses in the Proclamation.
On these grounds I submit with confidence that at least my contention is not unhistoric, nor perhaps will your Lordships think it either fantastic or preposterous. I venture to suggest it has a good deal to be said for it. It accounts for a great deal. It accounts for the whole of the regime of this part of the Labrador Peninsula, and it accounts for it on a satisfactory basis. We have the coast, with its fishery interest, confidence to the Governor of Newfoundland. We have Quebec, a settled territory, put under the territorial sovereignty of the Governor of Quebec. And we have the Indian territory where the Montagnais and others roam over these trackless plateaus, pursuing their trade, and portaging from one part to the other. We have their rights preserved, and their hunting grounds kept to them under the

p. 417

provisions of the Royal Proclamation, a Royal Proclamation which has no application to the Governor of Newfoundland. And then he, poor unhappy man, if my friend's contention be right, is put suddenly in the position of being Governor of all those inland Indians whom I have now discovered—my friend did not discover them—for your Lordships' consideration. He is made Governor of all those Red Indians from the deck of his ship off the Labrador Coast. An argument such as that almost merits my learned friend's epithets—only applied to his argument rather than to mine—but I prefer not to use such strong epithets on any opponent's argument.
That is not all. I want to turn next to the other element in the Labrador Peninsula—the Hudson's Bay Company. I propose to do my best to fit the pieces together there also. Nothing could have been more interesting than my learned friend's method of demonstrating how he partitioned Labrador. I am engaged in exactly the same occupation, but my result will be somewhat different.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : If you are beginning a new topic, we will adjourn now.

(Adjourned to Monday next, at 10.45 a.m.)


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