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

Volume XII

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord Chancellor.

29 Oct., 1926.

The Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Macmillan.

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

29 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

The Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Macmillan.

p. 348

Breton being now annexed to His Majesty's Dominions by the Definitive Treaty ; The general Fishery of Newfoundland, and the Gulf and the Coasts with it, is become a Matter of infinite Extent, and of the utmost Importance; at the same time, that the preventing the French from partaking of the Benefit of these Fisheries (they being permitted to come within three Leagues of the Coasts & Islands within the Gulph) seems to us to make some Additional measure and Additional Instructions in the Execution of the Definitive Treaty, referred to Us, absolutely necessary for the securing the exclusive Possession of these valuable Fisheries to Your Majesty's Subjects.” Therefore what the Lords advised was that the scheme for the protection of fisheries and for regulating the fisheries was quite a good scheme. There may have been some defects in the execution of it, but it was an excellent scheme. But it was necessary to make some additional measures and to give some additional instructions consequent on Articles 5 and 6 of the Definitive Treaty of Paris.
“ As to the Concurrent Fishing on the North East Coast of Newfoundland, in case any of your Majesty's Subjects should engage in it, much will depend upon the Temper, Judgment, & Discretion of the Officer of the Navy, who shall be appointed to superintend the Fishery, and who certainly should be instructed to adhere to the due Sense & Execution of the 13th Article of the Treaty of Utrecht with Justice to the Subjects of both Crowns ”—the 13th Article of the Treaty of Utrecht is printed in Volume V at page 2181—“ Upon the Coast of Labrador, it will be impossible to prevent the French continuing to have the full Benefit of their former Commerce with the Indians of the Coast, unless some British Settlement should be made there, or sufficient Cruizers stationed with Instructions to the Commanders to seize all french Ships coming within a certain Distance of the Coast.”—Two methods were contemplated, either that we should have a settlement there, or that we should have an adequate naval patrol of the coast.—“ The same Observation is equally applicable to all the Coast from the Streights of Bellisle to the River St. Lawrence, from thence along the whole Coast of Canada and Acadia, and the Fisheries annexed to these Coasts which lye within the Gulph, the exclusive Possession of all which Fisheries in our Judgment depends entirely upon the Effiiccacy [sic] of whatever Plan shall be now followed, and the additional Instructions which shall be now given by the proper Boards to the proper Officer in the Execution of this great and essential Measure. The Situation of the Islands of St. Peter & Miquelon, so convenient for carrying on an illicit Trade with North America, calls for particular Caution, and it were earnestly to be wished that the Communication between these Islands & Newfoundland could be prevented, from which the Inhabitants of St. Peter will otherwise receive the double Advantage of getting easily & cheaply the Materials for building their Boats, and of circulating french produce & Manufactures amongst the British Fishermen. These Points naturally arising out of the Words of the Reference made to Us by your Majesty's Secretary of State, We have presumed to submit to Your

p. 349

Majesty's Consideration without in any Degree taking upon Ourselves actually to prepare any Plan for the Accomplishment of Measures, the grounds of which are so very imperfectly before Us, which, if ever They should take place, must be determined with an Attention to other Measures, and make a Part of one general Plan ; The framing which will depend so much upon the united Labour and Experience of different Departments of Government ; and the Execution of which will at last depend upon Orders to be issued from other Offices and to Officers not subject to our Controul.”
My Lords, I think I am justified in saying upon that document that the topic to which the Lords of Trade were addressing themselves had nothing whatever to do with territorial government at all. They were concerned to see how the provisions of the Treaty relating to fisheries might best be put into execution, and they were advising what additions or alterations to the existing instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland were requisite to effect that end. They addressed themselves to that matter, and to that matter only ; and you will find, my Lords, that the result of their labours is reported on page 390.
It might be well, in passing, lest it should be said that I had omitted anything, to mention that on page 389, there is a letter of the 24th March, 1763, from Lord Egremont, directing the Lords of Trade to make such additions to the draft of Instructions to Newfoundland “ as you shall judge expedient, & necessary, to render Them conformable to the new Commission abovementioned.” That is in consequence of “ The King having judged it proper, that all the coast of Labradore, from the entrance to Hudson's Streights,” (and so on, using the appropriate language) “ should be included in the Government of Newfoundland.”

Sir JOHN SIMON : It is more than that. Page 389 is a letter which required the preparation of the draft of a new Commission. Look at line 19.

Mr. MACMILLAN : No doubt it is.

Sir JOHN SIMON: A Commission.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : They had recommended that, as one way of preventing the French from getting the trade with the Indians. Labrador, some settlements should be made.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord ; that was an alternative which was not adopted.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Is that so ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord, The other alternative was, I think, to station sufficient cruisers there. At least, that is my reading of it, but your Lordships, of course, will judge.

p. 350

The LORD CHANCELLOR : The next document to their first advice is this letter of the 24th March, in which the King states that he had decided that the coast of Labrador shall be included under the Government of Newfoundland.

Mr. MACMILLAN : That is perfectly right, my Lord.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : And then comes page 390.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord, and with regard to page 390, you have to observe that the Lords of Trade had before them that letter of the 24th March, 1763, the preceding letter, in which the King's instructions as to the inclusion in the Government of Newfoundland of that area, or of those rights, as I shall call them for the moment, had been indicated.
The document says this: “In Obedience to Your Majesty's Commands signified to us by the Earl of Egremont, one of Your Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, in his Letter dated the 24th instant, We have prepared, and humbly beg leave to lay before Your Majesty, a Draught of Instructions for Thomas Graves Esquire, whom Your Majesty has been pleased to appoint Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and all the Coast of Labradore, from the Entrance of Hudson's Streights to the River St. Johns, which discharges itself into the Sea nearly opposite the West end of the Island of Anticosto, including that Island, with any other small Islands on the said Coast of Labradore, and also the Islands of Madelaines in the Gulph of St. Lawrence ”—now you get the operative effect of it—“ In this Draught We have added to that lately approved by Your Majesty, the 1st, 3rd, 10th & 11th Articles, and macle such Alterations, as appeared necessary, in order to render the Instructions of Your Majesty's said Government conformable to the Extent of his Commission.”
Those are the documents which led up to the alterations of Captain Graves's Commission in view of the changed circumstances ; and the main alterations are alterations, as they indicate, or additions, as they indicate, of four new Articles.

Lord WARRINGTON : Those are the instructions.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord, those are the Instructions. They precede the date of the Commission, as your Lordships will notice in the calendar that I gave you. I am taking it chronologically as far as I can.
It is interesting to look at the draft of the Instructions, which follows on page 391 and the subsequent pages, in order to see what are the new Articles which have been added. The first new Article is to be found at the foot of page 391, and it is in these ternis : “ First : You are therefore to fit yourself with all convenient speed, and to repair to your said Command ”—the expression used, your Lordships will notice,

p. 351

is “ Command,” for Captain Graves—“ and, being arrived, you are to take upon you the Execution of the place & Trust We have reposed in you, and, as soon as conveniently may be, to assemble the principal Inhabitants in the Island of Newfoundland, and in such other places as you shall judge proper or necessary within your said Government, and with all due Solemnity to cause Our said Commission under Our Great Seal of Great Britain, constituteing you Our Governor & Commander in Chief as aforesaid, to be read and published.” So far there is nothing very striking in the way of novelty ; the only word to which I would rather call your Lordships' attention is the word “Command ” as descriptive of what his function is.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Of course, he is appointed Governor and Commander in Chief.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord ; but it is noticeable that his sphere is described as a sphere of command.
Then the third Article at once goes to this matter of fishing, to which their attention had been drawn by the King. It says : “And whereas by the said 5th Article of the Treaty lately concluded at Paris, We had consented to leave to the Subjects of the Most Christian King the Liberty of fishing in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, on Condition that the Subjects of France do not exercise the said Fishery but at the distance of three Leagues from all the Coasts belonging to Great Britain, as well those of the continent as those of the Islands, situated in the said Gulph St. Lawrence, You are hereby required to carry the Stipulations of the said Clause into full Execution, within the Limits of your Government.”

Viscount HALDANE : What page is that ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : That is page 392, my Lord ; and it is Article 3 of the Instructions. That is new matter.
The two other additions are Articles 10 and 11, which are to be found on page 394. Article No. 10 runs thus : “And whereas We have been informed that a very considerable and advantageous Whale and Sea Cow Fishery may be carried on in the Gulph of St. Lawrence and upon the Labradore Coast, it is therefore Our Will and Pleasure, that you do give all possible encouragement to such Fishery, and report to Us, by our Commissioners for Trade &Plantations, your opinion in what way, and by what means, so valuable a Branch of Commerce may be extended and improved. (11) You are also to make a very particular enquiry into, and report to Us as aforesaid, the actual State and natureof the Fisheries carried on by the Subjects of France in every distinct Branch thereof, as well that which is carried on for Morus Verte upon the Banks without the Gulph St. Lawrence, as the dry Fishery carried on at Miquelon and St. Peter's upon the Coast of Newfoundland, from
3 B

p. 352

Bonavista to Point Riche, or in other parts of the Gulph of St. Lawrence, and you are to be as particular as may be in Your Accounts of the Number and Nature of the Ships and Boats employed on those different Fisheries, the Number of Men, the Quantity of Fish catched, cured and carried to Market, and, in general, of every other Circumstance that may furnish a precise State of this Branch of the Commerce of France.”
Now, my Lords, I respectfully attach the greatest importance to this chapter of the transaction. The question of the regulation of the fisheries was a question which was in the mind of both persons, both of His Majestys's Principal Secretary of State and of the Lords of Trade, and of those who framed the Instructions : and it is of the utmost significance that when the Governor of Newfoundland was—let me try and use neutral language for the moment—given new duties, the only additions which were required to his existing Commission, that is to say the only operative additions which were thought necessary to be made to his existing Commission, related to three topics only, all of which were fishery topics and nothing else.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Forgive me, Mr. Macmillan ; you do not mean “ Commission,” you mean “ Instructions.”

Mr. MACMILLAN : I am afraid, Sir John, that I must ask you to extend the same indulgence to me, as I extended to you. In a case such as this, I am afraid I shall be certain to make some mistakes. I did not even venture to challenge some of your own little errors which I thought were not material, but I shall, of course, welcome any correction if I should really go wrong.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : There is also this alteration made, both in the Commission and in the reference to it here, that the Governor is made Governor and Commander in Chief of the Island of Newfoundland and the Coast of Labrador.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord. Pray do not think that I had omitted that, but I wanted for the moment to call attention to what I have described as the additional clauses. I was not going to pass over that matter. It was necessary then to introduce Labrador, or else it would not have been complete ; but I am thinking for the moment of what was the inception of this matter.
The Treaty had been taken in hand, and the Treaty contained the most important fishery additions. The inception of this matter is this : how can this then be regulated ? And various suggestions are made. Then it is necessary at once to deal with it through the medium of some alteration in the Commission to be given to the Governor of Newfoundland.
Now, what are the topics of concern ? The topics of concern are the fisheries ; and the additions made to his Commission in those three Articles to which I have referred relate to fisheries, and relate to the


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