The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

The Lord Chancellor.

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attention to Articles 7 and 8 in particular, and I must in passing controvert, or at least suggests that it is possible to controvert, the suggestion of my learned friend with regard to line 30 on page 393.
My learned friend seems to think that Davis's Inlet and Lake Melville or the Hamilton Inlet were being confused there. That was the suggestion. It is enough for me at this moment to say that I respectfully differ, because on the maps at this period you find both Davis Inlet and Esquimaux Bay, which is Hamilton Inlet. I only say that in passing lest it be taken that I have admitted my learned friend's interpretation, but it is not for that purpose that I have alluded to this.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : On one map the Inlet is shown running right through the hills. It is purely imaginary, of course.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord. There is a very interesting little bit of history attached to it. One knows the anxiety which was felt in maritime circles at that period to see if it was possible to get a North–West passage; and any opening on the North Coast of America was always hoped to be an avenue to the North–West passage. Indeed, there are Acts of Parliament at this time, two of them, offering a reward of £20,000 to anybody who would find a North–West passage. It was made a matter of parliamentary sanction at this time.
This Naval gentleman is told to “ visit all the coasts and harbours of the said islands and territories,” and so on, and make maps and surveys of them. It seems to be a most excellent task to give to this Naval officer. Then he is to see if he can find out if Davis's Inlet be or be not the North–west passage. But the matter is of a very maritime flavour indeed. My learned friend commented upon Article 8, and his comment was this. May I read it first ? It is on page 393 : “ You are also to enquire and report to Us, by our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, whether any or what further Establishment may be necessary to be made, or Forts erected in any part of Newfoundland, or the other Islands or Territories under your Government, either for the Protection of the Fishery, the Security of the Country, for the establishing and carrying on a Commerce with the Indians residing in or resorting to the said Islands, or inhabiting the Coast of Labradore.” The comment that my learned friend made upon that was this : “ Here you have a reference to a commerce with the Indians residing in or resorting to the said Islands, or inhabititing the Coast of Labrador, and from that he inferred that this Governor was instructed to deal with matters relating to the interior part of the country. It is rather curious that stress of argument appears to have necessitated a certain inconsistency of attitude as to the Indian position in the interior. When it was desirable to show that under the proclamation of 1763 no Indians in the hinterland of Labrador were being considered and protected by the constitution of an Indian reservation there, the inhabitants of the interior were described by my learned friend as a few Esquimaux. Now the emphasis is a little different, because it is desirable, when you

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are construing Captain Graves's commission, to suggest that there is a commerce with Indians in the interior and something important, therefore, for the Governor of Newfoundland to deal with. From the one point of view it is desirable to minimise, as I say, in the stress of argument, the Indian element; from the other point of view it becomes equally important to emphasise it. When it was necessary to minimise it, there were a few Esquimaux ; when it was necessary to emphasise it one finds that this is what was suggested. It is asked on the publication of Article 8 whether it is going to be said that the Indians contemplated there were Indians squatting on the coast; I think they were the words; the inference rather being that that was an unfounded suggestion, that these Indians were persons squatting on the coast, but that plainly it referred to Indians in the interior. I will get the exact words in a moment.

Viscount FINLAY : Are you quoting from paragraph 8 ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord.

Viscount FINLAY : The words there are—

Mr. MACMILLAN : Indians inhabiting and residing on the coast of Labrador. It was desirable there, of course, to suggest that that could not mean merely a strip of sea shore, and the point was put as a submission that this could not apply ; “ Is it going to be said”—I think was the expression—“ that this applied to Indians squatting on the shore of Labrador ?” the inference being : “ Of course not ; it applied to Indians in the interior.” The curious thing is this : that when you come to Palliser's activities you find that he had no doubt at all what these Indians were; they were the Esquimaux. My Lord once or twice asked me yesterday as to whether I could say that the terms “ Indians ” and “ Esquimaux ” were used as mutually inclusive. They are not; they are sometimes used in combination, and sometimes as distinct; but that there was a profound distinction between the two type is, of course, absolutely plain. I asked leave to refer to one or two passages in Volume III, first of all to Governor Palliser's proclamation of the 1st of July, 1764, which is to be found in Volume III at page 930. I have now fortunately found the reference to the precise words which I was dealing with. It was at page 40 of my learned friend's address when commenting on Article 8. After reading these words : “ The security of the Country, or the establishing and carrying on a Commerce with the Indians residing in or resorting to the said Islands, or inhabiting the Coast of Labradore,” my learned friend said : “ I do not know whether it is going to be said that on the selvedge of the sea there was a population of Indians squatting on the sea shore of course, there was nothing of the kind.” Here is Captain Hugh Palliser, with his commission in his hand, proceeding to deal with the
4 A 2

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situation. First of all on page 930, on the 1st July, 1764 (that is the first year of his office) as one of the first matters to which he addresses himself, we find him dealing with the Esquimaux Indians. The proclamation of 1st July, 1764, runs : “ By His Excellency Hugh Pallisser Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland in North America, etc., etc. Whereas many and great Advantages would arise to His Majesty's Trading Subjects”—I submit there, as always throughout, the trading subjects are fishery people—“ if a Friendly Intercourse could be Established with the Esquimeaux Indians, Inhabiting the Coast of Labradore and as all Attempts hitherto made for that Purpose have Proved Ineffectual owing in a great Measure to the Imprudent Treacherous or Cruel conduct of some People who have resorted to that Coast by Plundering and killing several of them from which they have Entertained an opinion of our Disposition and Intentions being the same with respect to them, as theirs are towards us that is to circumvent and Kill them; and whereas such Wicked Practices are most contrary to His Majesty's Sentiments of humanity to his Conciliating their Affections and his Endeavours to induce them to Trade with his Subjects. In Conformity to these His Majesty's Sentiments, I hereby Strictly forbid such Wicked Practices for the Future, and declare all such as are found offending herein shall be Punished with the Utmost Severity of the Law. And whereas I have taken Measures for bringing about a Friendly Communication between the said Indians”—that is the Esquimaux Indians inhabiting the coast of Labrador—“ and His Majesty's Subjects and for removeing those Prejudices that have hitherto proved obstacles to it. I hereby Strictly enjoin and require all His Majesty's Subjects, who meet with any of the said Indians to treat them in the most civil and friendly manner.” My Lords will appreciate there that that language is, of course, entirely inappropriate to the Red Indians. The Red Indians were people who had been in communication with white men. The Montagnais and the Red Indians had been in communication with French traders for generations. These are the Esquimaux Indians inhabiting the coast of Labrador, and his proclamation is issued with reference to them, and his language plainly applies to them. But we come nearer to it, my Lord, on the next page. On the 1st September, 1764, in the first year of his governorship, he reports to the Lords of Trade giving an account of his proceedings to establish friendly relations with the Esquimaux Indians, and this time I am able to attach it to the very article which my learned friend construed as he did, because the Governor, at line 9, proceeds to say : “ In obedience to the 13th and 14th Article of His Majesty's instructions”—these were Pallisser's instructions, and the 13th and 14th articles of Pallisser's instructions correspond to Graves's 8 and 9, and therefore you have here an exposition in fact by Pallisser of his interpretation of Article 8 of Graves's commission, and the corresponding Article 13 of his own commission. Here is what he says he did in obedience to that article, the article which my learned friend said in fact referred to a

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population of Indians squatting on the sea shore : “ In obedience to the 13th and 14th Article of His Majesty's Instructions for endeavouring to Conciliate the Affections of the Esquemeaux Savages on the Coast of Labrador without the Streiglits of Bell Isle, and to Introduce a cornmerce with them ; before I left London meeting with a Mann Named Hans Harven one of the Brothers of the Moravian sect who has lived some years amongst the Savages of Greenland, and talks their Language, which very probably is the sanie with the Esquemeauxs, and finding in him a Strong disposition (to a degree of Enthusiasm) to undertake to introduce some knowledge of Religion amongst these Savages I encouraged him in it, and to come out here, where I have also encouraged some Merchants to send a Vessel with him to that Coast, (having none of the Kings to Spare this Season) and in case he should be able to Converse with those Savages, I have furnished him with a writing to be explained and distributed amongst them, to serve as an Introduction to Encourage them to Trade with us.” Then you will find on the next page, 933, a further reference to those Esquimaux subjects; it turns out that this Moravian, to the great astonishment of the Esquimaux, was able to talk to them. The language of Greenland which this Moravian could speak was found to be the same language on the Labrador coast, and therefore the Moravian was able to converse with the Esquimaux subjects and was a means of communication. Then he goes on to say : “ I am of opinion Measures may be taken for opening a friendly Communication with them, for gratifying them with what they want in the way of traffick and thereby”—again observe the motive—“provide a Security for our Fishers for Cod, Whale and Seal upon that Coast. Every encouragement to a Ship Fishery there and the North part of Newfoundland seems to me a Consideration worthy of Attention.” My Lord, he was setting about this : he was setting about establishing a friendly communication with the Esquimaux because, so long as they were upon the coast of Labrador and were hostile, they constituted a menace to the ship fishery, which was under his charge. It was the Esquimaux Indians to whom he directed himself at once, on his own contemporary interpretation of Article 8, that he was to establish a friendly communication with the Indians. These were not Red Indians. You required no Greenlander to communicate w ith the Red Indians. The language of the Red Indians was entirely different. He gets a Moravian, who knows Esquimaux language, to put him in touch with the Esquimaux. He says : I am obeying His Majesty's instructions in trying to establish a trade with the Esquimaux and get on a friendly footing with them. Why ? Because if I do not conciliate the inhabitants on the coast I shall find myself embarrassed in regulating the ship fishery under my charge, and it will be discouraged. In those circumstances can I not justly say there was a population of Indians squatting on the shore in the way Pallisser understood it—Esquimaux Indians. He goes on at page 934 in his own report. The matter becomes abundantly plain as one proceeds. These are fairly long reports, and though there may be other matter which

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I should read, may I read the passage I have selected on page 935 : “ Having said a fishing Colony is best defended by a Naval Force, which is supposed to spring from it, I take leave to add my humble Opinion, that under the present Management of our extensive one at Newfoundland it does not afford that annual Return of Seamen to England that is generally imagined, not near the Number it might, nor scarce above half the Number the French have from their limited Fishery which I have explained in my Answer to the 16th Article and as appears by the general scheme of the French and English Fisheries for this Year sent herewith. Upon the Coast of Labradore, which is inhabited by Savages, some Posts, I judge, will be necessary as well for introducing a Trade with them for Fur, &c.”—these again I submit are the Esquimaux—“ as for securing our People from their Attacks and Plunder and I am informed those inhabiting the Coast within the Streights of Bell–Isle are a docile People much inclined to traffick; those along the Coast Northward without the Streights have never been in Friendship with any Nation, but from the Interview had with them this Year, as mentioned in my letter of the 9th of October, I am of Opinion a friendly Intercourse might be easily introduced and I would recommend an advanced Post as far to the Northward as possible for a trucking Place, where those Savages may be stopt from coining further Southward by supplying them there with what they want or will be most useful to them and we may procure what we want of them and thus keep the rest of the Coast open and free for our Adventurers”—the same language, “ open and free ” fishery—“ to try whether it affords a Fishery which I have good Reason for believing it does, both for Cod and Whale, and also for Seal which is said to be here in great Abundance.” There it is plain that he is considering the relationship with the Esquimaux.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I do not know whether my learned friend would read the next sentence, if it does not inconvenience him.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Certainly. “ The whole Trade for fur and the Fishery, upon that part of the Coast lying within the Streights of Bell–Isle”—that is round the corner—“ are carried on by a few Merchants from Quebec, who having had grants from General Murray for exclusive Privileges for that whole Coast, have prevented any other Adventurers that way. They employ none but Canadians in that Trade and Canadian Vessels having Passes from the Governor of Quebec to come to the Fisheries.” These people are the people whose presence necessitated the passing afterwards of the Acts of 1774 and 1825.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I wonder if you know how far in the Esquimaux did live. I was rather struck by the map which you produced to us, the aboriginal map attached to the Report of the House of Commons Committee. That shows that the Esquimaux inhabited a tract of considerable depth.


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