The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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2 Nov., 1926.

The Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

Viscount Haldane.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

2 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

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Mr. MACMILLAN : It is very difficult to say. Of course, that is only washed; it is not done by a precise boundary.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : There is also a dotted line marked.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I had not noticed that, my Lord.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : It is taken right round the coast into Hudson's Bay. I was wondering if you had anything to throw light upon that. It is in your atlas, but it is clearer here.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord ; that is why I ventured to ask my Lord to look at it yesterday.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : This map shows the whole of Hamilton Inlet included in the Esquimaux region.

Mr.MACMILLAN : There were certainly at one time some Esquimaux settlements within the narrows. I have some evidence of their having been inside the narrows.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : By “ narrows ” you mean the Straits of Belle Isle ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : No, my Lord, within the Straits of Hamilton Inlet. My Lord there is a good deal of evidence as to the habits of the Esquimaux and their residence. It is difficult to summarise the thing fairly without exposing oneself to criticism, but I think it might be fairly put that their main life was spent upon the Lighlands along the Labrador shore, and on the shore—I use the word “ shore ” advisedly—of Labrador; that they were at constant enmity with the Indians in the interior, that their language was so different that there could be no communication between them at all; that they took every opportunity of murdering each other when they met. The Esquimaux sometimes went inland to hunt. I found one passage where it said they went after caribou, but they were liable to receive a very hot reception when they did so, from the Red Indians who regarded that territory as their province. The diet of these people was quite different and their habits were quite different. They were a totally different kind of person from the Red Indians who lived in wigwams and were hunters. Governor Pallisser at page 949 has an interesting paragraph upon this. He is still talking about his experiences with the Indians whom I will venture to call the population of Indians squatting on the sea shore.

Viscount FINLAY : Do you include under “ Indians ” Esquimaux?

Mr. MACMILLAN : Only Esquimaux on this point. “ For enabling me to make proper reports in Order to your Lordships forming a

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Judgment of the nature and Disposition of those People”—who are those people ? Those are the people whom he was attempting to conciliate in the execution of His Majesty's instructions—“ of the nature and Disposition of those People and of what Advantages His Majesty's Subjects may hope to reap from that Coast, I went there myself, and met with a party of between four and five hundred of those savages”—these were Esquimaux, my Lord—“ who come yearly from the north down to the Streights of Bell Isle and by means of the Brethren of the Unitas Fratrum I had many interviews and conversations with them, for an account of the informations we got from them.” As interpreters they could speak Esquimaux.

Viscount HALDANE: I suppose these Brethren were Protestants ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, Lutherans. They were not Catholics, of course, and they did not know the Indian language. They could not speak the Red Indian language. Their mission was to the Esquimaux on the coast ; not to the Indians of the interior. You will find in some of their records they say they were very sorry they could not propagate the Gospel among the Indians because they did not know their language.

Lord WARRINGTON : “ Unitas Fratrum ” is another word for Moravians.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord. Here we have these identified absolutely. We have these 400 or 500 Savages, the people he was to concilitate, as he conceived it, under his instructions to conciliate Indians ; they came down to see him, and he was able to communicate with them through the Moravian, because the Moravian had learnt Esquimaux in Greenland, and the language was found to be so similar that he was able to communicate with them, and he had the advantage of talking to the Esquimaux. “ I refer your Lordships to a narrative of what passed at the interviews I had with them, which I shall lay before you at my return to England ; therefore will here only add my opinion that those people who have hitherto been so much dreaded may in a very short time by kind treatment and fair dealing be made exceedingly usefull people to His Majesties Subjects, they are expert whale catchers and naturally fishers, are almost amphibious creatures, living constantly on little Islands along the coast, and subsist almost wholly upon fish.”

Viscount HALDANE : That is rather instructive. They use the islands to live upon, they live on fish, they are almost amphibious, they are what we hear of Esquimaux being elsewhere, where they live on the ice a good deal, and they belong essentially to the coast line.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I cited that in answer to my Lord Chancellor's question as to whether 1 could give any indication of the extent of the Esquimaux inhabitants on the coast. I cannot do so by any measure–

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ments, I can only do so by a description of their habits ; and here is Governor Pallisser's description of the kind of people he is dealing with, and here are the people whom he conceived it to be his duty to conciliate under his instructions, because if he does not do that, then they will be a constant menace to the carrying on of the open and free fishery which it is his duty to foster. I do not think anything could be more descriptive than that, because that is telling you what the people were without any particular motive one way or the other, and that is his description of those people.

Lord SUMNER : Have they changed ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : No, my Lord, except I think that they have diminished. The unhappy thing is that they are diminishing like almost all aboriginal races.

Lord SUMNER : It is their fate.

Mr. MACMILLAN : It is their fate to be exterminated. I am in my Lord's judgment upon this : Is it not abundantly plain that this is nothing to do with the Red Indians at all ? This is all Esquimaux ; and Pallisser is talking of the Esquimaux alone. He did not know the Red Indian language ; he had not any interpreters in the Unitas Fratrum. Throughout the Moravians were a Protestant Mission to the Esquimaux on the coast of Labrador. They expressed their interest when they had one or two visits from Red Indians, but they could not speak to them, and only wished they could, because there was a new field for the propagation of the Gospel. The demarcation was not only a line of demarcation ; it was a linguistic demarcation ; it was a line of demarcation marked out by all ethnographical distinctions and differences in habits and everything else. No two tribes could be more distinct.

Lord SUMNER : I thought the Indians, properly so-called, were then Christians.

Mr. MACMILLAN : The Moravians were Protestants, and the Indians were Catholics. They record their Catholicity is of the very primitive type, and does not do them much good. They got one or two of them into their mission rooms, and they were greatly interested in looking at a sewing machine, but the Jesuits, as usual, were extra–ordinarily active, and they were wonderful explorers in those days. Passage after passage establishes that the Red Indians of the interior, the Montagnais, were Catholics, and they came down to be ministered to by the Jesuit Priests in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Viscount HALDANE : Besides the Montagnais were there any others who were Catholics ?
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Mr. MACMILLAN : The Naskopis too. They were further away to the north, and were in the upper part, and it appears were less civilised than the Montagnais, who, for a long time, long before we came on the scene, had been in constant contact with the Quebec merchants.
My Lords, I have recited these passages, if I might, in order to show that there is another aspect of this instruction given to Graves and Palliser as to commerce with the Indians, from that which was suggested by my learned friend. I am courageous enough to suggest that there is on the selvedge of the sea a population of Indians squatting on the seashore. This Governor found them there; he calls them the Eskimo Indians, and he proceeds, in the execution of his Commission, to try to establish commerce with them and to try to conciliate them, with the objective which was always the objective in mind, in order that free fishery might be carried on without the menace of Eskimos on the shore who might at any time raid their temporary fishing establishments along the coat.
Your Lordships have never, I think, had occasion to look at the Act of 1699, which is the key to the whole position in Newfoundland. That Act is printed in Volume I at page 250, and I do not delay over it, only desiring to emphasise that this is an Act dealing with Newfoundland trade. It is referred to over and over again in the instructions to the Governors of Newfoundland.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Yes, we did look at this.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Your Lordships have considered it already ; my learned friend Mr. Barrington–Ward referred to it. It has certain aspects which are worth bringing to the surface, which I do not think have been noted. The Act is “ An Act to Encourage the Trade to Newfoundland.” I said a little earlier this morning that when the word “ trade ” is used in relation to Newfoundland, one must be careful not to confuse it—it is attractive to the counter contention to confuse it—with furring and things of that sort, commerce at large. The trade that is referred to in relation to Newfoundland is the codfish trade ; and you see the preamble begins : “ Whereas the Trade and Fishing at Newfoundland is a beneficial trade to this Kingdom, not only in the employing great numbers of seamen and ships, and exporting and consuming great quantities of provisions and manufactures of this realm, whereby many tradesmen and poor artificers are kept at work, but also in bringing into this nation, by returns of the effects of the said fishery from other countries, greater quantities of wine, oil, plate, iron, wooll, and sundry other useful commodities, to the increase of His Majetsy's Revenue, and the encouragement of trade and navigation.” The trade and fishing at Newfoundland, which is described as a beneficial trade, is the cod fishing. Then it goes on to say : “ It shall and may be lawful for all his Majesty's subjects residing within this his Realm of England, or the Dominions thereunto belonging, trading or that shall trade to Newfoundland, and the seas, rivers lakes, creeks, harbours in or about Newfoundland, or

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any of the islands adjoining or adjacent thereunto, to have, use, and enjoy the free trade and traffick, and art of merehandize and fishery, to and from Newfoundland, and peaceably to have, use, and enjoy, the freedom of taking bait and fishing in any of the rivers, lakes, creeks, harbours, or roads, in or about Newfoundland, and the said seas, or any of the islands adjacent thereunto.” Now no doubt it will be said that rivers and lakes are referred to there, and it will be said that my knowledge of natural history must be very deficient if I suggest that cod are to be found in rivers and lakes. Of course they are not to be found in rivers and lakes; but when you look at these terms here they are all controlled by the idea of carrying on the trade and fishery of Newfoundland; and no one has suggested that this Act has an application to inland salmon fisheries or to any other fisheries but cod fisheries, and the extensive enumeration of terms had reference, of course, to this, that you had got an indented coast, you may have river mouths, and so on, and there is to be no question about the maritime area in question. I equally retort that you do not take bait for cod fishing in lakes and rivers. Then it continues : “ And liberty to go on Shore on any part of Newfoundland, or any of the said Islands for the curing, salting, drying, and husbanding of their Fish, and for making of oil, and to cut down Woods and Trees,” and so on. All that language is applicable to the cod fishing industry and to no other. You do not get oil from salmon, and all this is to be done as something useful or advantageous to their fishing trade.
Then comes a whole series of provisions which constitute really the code of Newfoundland. It contains all the provisions about boats and the Admirals and what rights they are to have when they come, and throughout this is really the instruction that the Governor of Newfoundland gets. You will find records throughout these volumes of the Governor of Newfoundland being instructed to take this Act as his guide. This contains all the regulations that he has specially to attend to, and his Commission expressly says that he shall do nothing repugnant to the Act of 1699. That is his instruction with regard to administration; it is all about ballast and harbours and by–boats, and all manner of things related to the cod fishing, and to nothing else. It is rather interesting that there is jurisdiction given under it, a statutory jurisdiction, because this is in the Act of 1699. Now here is a jurisdiction as to which it might well be said that it was of a somewhat vague type. This is on page 255, Section XV : “ And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in Case any Difference or Controversy shall arise in Newfoundland, or the Islands thereunto adjoining, between the Masters of fishing Ships and the Inhabitants there, or any By–boat Keeper, for or concerning the Right and Property of fishing Rooms, Stages, Flakes, or any other Building or Conveniency for Fishing or curing of Fish, in the several Harbours or Coves, the said Differences, Disputes and Controversies, shall be judged and determined by the fishing Admirals, in the several Harbours and Coves : and in Case any
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