The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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4 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Viscount Haldane.

Mr. Macmillan.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

The Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

p. 614

fisheries carried on upon the said Eastern Coast of Labrador.’ I, the Governor aforesaid, do therefore hereby make known unto all whom it may concern that the said Settlements of the ‘ Unitas Fratrum ’ are under His Majesty's immediate protection.”

Viscount FINLAY : What Volume are you reading from ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : It is Volume III, page 1347.

Lord SUMNER : The grant was made as a grant by the Crown of Crown Lands, and not as an exercise of jurisdiction conferred by the Commission of the Governor of Newfoundland.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord.

Lord SUMNER : But then there comes a further difficulty. Is not that, in that case, a grant by the Crown at the expense either of the Hudson's Bay Company or of Quebec ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : I think it must have been.

Lord SUMNER : And if there is no communication either with the Hudson's Bay Company or Quebec, is not that some ground for saying that the view of the advisers of the Crown was that really it was not within the jurisdiction of the Governor of Newfoundland, although it might be proper under the circumstances.

Mr. MACMILLAN : But, my Lord, see how tenuous the point becomes. I should agree most respectfully that Newfoundland was properly consulted, because Newfoundland had a coast, and this did embrace a part of what we ourselves concede was Newfoundland.

Viscount HALDANE : In the year 1818 ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord.

Lord SUMNER : All these points become more tenuous.

Mr. MACMILLAN : That does not, unhappily, absolve one from the duty of dealing with them.
The Moravian position, therefore, does not seem to advance matters very much, but what is very striking is this, that whatever the Moravians were, they were a coastal mission. That is quite clear. They did not know the language of the interior at all, and they were missionaries to the Esquimaux. They were Protestants. Your Lordships will find some very interesting passages in the last volume.

Viscount HALDANE : I suppose that Newfoundland had that

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territory where the Moravians were, if they had it at all, in virtue of the Proclamation of 1763. You will remember that the Statutes took away from Newfoundland what it had got since 1763.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I have always maintained that it was the same subject matter that was being transacted with, back and forth, namely, the fishery coast.

Viscount HALDANE : The coast, yes ; but the only part of the coast that was taken away under the Statute was such part of the coast as had been given to Newfoundland since 1763.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE : The words are express.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord, they are.

Sir JOHN SIMON : If my learned friend will forgive me, I think it may be that Lord Haldane is for the moment thinking of a later date, perhaps. The matter that we are dealing with is a matter which arises in the year 1766. It is therefore before the Act of 1774.

Viscount HALDANE : You mean this incident ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord. I beg my learned friend's pardon for interrupting, but this happened before 1774.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Is that the Moravian letter ?


Mr. MACMILLAN : Then Newfoundland would be interested in this. After 1774, it would not be.

Sir JOHN SIMON : The point, for what it is worth, is this : it really is not much, but it is in Volume III, at page 963, at the bottom of that page, where the Lords of Trade say that they recommend your Majesty's Governor to be instructed to allow this Society to occupy—so and so.

Viscount HALDANE : What is the date of that ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is 1766, my Lord, and therefore it is after Newfoundland has got the coast, whatever “ the coast ” means, and it is before 1774. It is at the bottom of page 963 in Volume III.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I was pointing out that these Moravians were missionaries and coastal people, and coastal people only, and they were therefore persons who would naturally be seated on the coast, and there–

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fore persons who would naturally be commended to whoever was in charge of the coast. The Christianizing of these Esquimaux, who had been very savage and had caused a great deal of trouble with the fishermen resorting to that place, was very important. It was pointed out by Governor Palliser that it was very important to get them tamed, because otherwise we could not carry on the fishery, and the Moravians were an instrument of taming these people. But they had nothing to do with the interior Indians at all, and therefore the Moravian settlements do not affect the question of the interior, but they may affect the question of how far inland it was proper to consult the Governor of Newfoundland about, when you were dealing with any part of these coasts. Beyond that, there is not anything much in it.
Will your Lordships take a reference to pages 4176 to 4182, where your Lordships will see in records of the Moravians that they did not know the Indian language at all and were not able to carry on their missions in that territory.

Viscount FINLAY : I think you read a passage.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I have not read this at all, my Lord.

Viscount FINLAY : No, but you did read a passage to that effect, I think.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord. These pages are interesting because they speak about the Indians coming from the interior, and they are strangers ; they do not know about them.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Of course, this does not come to very much, because these missionaries often begin with a little or no knowledge of the native language, and then learn it.

Mr. MACMILLAN : But your Lordship will notice that up to 1868, when they had been there for more than one hundred years on the coast, they had not learned it. First of all, apparently, in 1850, when the coast of Labrador was undoubtedly in the hands of Newfoundland, they cannot have been doing very much for it, because the unhappy Moravians complain, on page 4176, at line 20, that “ we have here neither magistrate nor police regulations, we scarcely know how to act in such a distressing case as the above, fearing to be either too forbearing on the one hand. or too severe on the other.”
Then they tell us this incident about a company of Indians coming down to dispose of reindeer skins, and they tell us this about it on page 4177, in line 2 : “ They appeared at our meetings, and behaved with decorum. How glad we should have been to preach the blessed Gospel to them in their own tongue ! These, like very many Indians, professed to belong to the Romish church, but they seemed to lack all religious knowledge. They had come from a distance of several days' journey, and drew on the floor with chalk the outlines of the course they had taken. We

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gave them several presents for their wives and children, with which they were pleased.” Now, my Lords, here is a very picturesque little incident. The Esquimaux missionaries are receiving a visit from Red Indians. They cannot converse with them, but have to use the language of signs, and they are very interested in seeing these people.
Then the next extract is in the year 1878, and with regard to that it says this, in the middle of page 4177 : “ About the middle of the year a family of Indians visited Hopedale from Ukjuktok Bay, who, as almost all the Neskopie Indians, are nominally connected with the Roman Catholic Church. The object of their visit was to obtain information about the differences between the Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs.”—I take respectful leave to doubt whether that was the real reason, and whether their interestled them to that.—“ The Christian behaviour of our Eskimoes, who live near them, had made such an impression on their minds, that they desired to spend a Sunday with our congregation at Hopedale,” and so on.
Then your Lordships will find various little human incidents of that sort, on page 4178, for instance : “ In February and March we had visits from companies of Nascopi Indians, who came to barter with us. How we regretted our inability to converse with them ! They were very suspicious in their dealings with us.” Then a little lower down, at line 28 on the same page, it says : “ Again it was impossible for us ”—this is the same year, 1882—“ to have intelligent intercourse with them on account of our ignorance of their language ; the Eskimoes understood them better, and appear to have lost a good deal of their old jealousy of the Indians.”
There are several more extracts to the same effect. There is rather an interesting little note taken from Dr. Grenfell, who, of course, has been so much associated with Labrador and has done such wonderful work there. That is on page 4182, and there are other extracts from Dr. Grenfell's works among the papers, and he has some very interesting observations to make from his long experience of the coast. There is one passage in which he points out that there are no houses more than 250 yards from the shore of the Labrador Coast, but in this passage here he is talking of the vernacular acceptation of Labrador. This is on page 4182, and he says : “‘ Labrador ’ is a term used, now with a wider sense, now with a more limited meaning. Taken in its widest geographical sense, it implies the vast peninsula to the north of Canada and Newfoundland, bounded by Hudson's Bay, Hudson's Streights and the Atlantic Ocean. To Newfoundlanders, however, ‘ the Labrador ’ is that part of the rugged and desolate coast–line nearest their island, and along which their schooners cruise during the season of the cod fishery. Of late years numbers of these fishing vessels have come north of Cape Harrison and so within what we may call ‘ the sphere of influence ’ of the venerable Moravian Mission established among the heathen Eskimoes, when their reputation for murderous savagery held all other white men at a distance.” I say no more about the Moravians ; and I think one other topic will exhaust these matters that I have to pick up.

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My learned friend referred to a certain resolution of 1886 as affording some support to his case. That was the resolution which preceded the Canadian Acts of 1898, extending the boundaries of the Province of Quebec ; and the point, put quite shortly, is this : If the territory in the interior was already the property of Quebec, under the Act of 1774, was it not idle to extend the Province of Quebec in 1898 so as to take in what was already included in it ?
The Resolution is to be found in Volume VIII at page 4005, and a little examination of it is, I think, worth while making. It was quoted more especially, I think, for the words below line No. 30, the description of the proposed boundary being there set out, and its concluding words are : “ again on the east by this same river to the fifty–second degree of north latitude, following this parallel to its intersection by the meridian of Anse au Blanc Sablon, the present recognised eastern boundary of this province.” The point of Anse Sablon is certainly the Eastern boundary ; but as to what is the depth, is a different matter. Then the proposal was legislation. My learned friend, unless I mistook him, said that that view was adopted by the Dominion and became the law. On page 222 of the Shorthand Notes, my learned friend laid great emphasis upon this, and said : “ It is a most striking fact that in 1886 after the rather detailed and careful Canadian survey represented in the official map of 1882, you should have the view first of all presented by the Quebec Government to the Dominion, and then in its turn adopted by the Dominion and then in its turn adopted by the Dominion and acted upon, that what Quebec needed was to enlarge the boundaries as you see them on my model,” and so on.
Now, my Lords, what happened was this, that upon this matter coming up for consideration, the boundary was not so fixed by the Legislature. Would your Lordships just look at the foot of page 4006, where there is a letter from Mr. Burgess, the Deputy Minister of the Interior, to the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mayne Daly. It says this : “ I have the honour to report that I have, in accordance with your request, given careful consideration to the various references which have been made from Council of despatches from His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, having relation to the subject of the Northern, North–western and North–eastern boundaries of that Province. The views of the Provincial authorities as to what these boundaries should be are set forth in a report, dated 4th June, 1886”;—that is the one upon which my learned friend is relying—“ made by a select committee of the Legislative Assembly ‘ to consider the question ’”—and so on. Then the correspondence is referred to and this description is given : “ This proposal, with the correspondence arising out of it, was referred to the Department of the Interior in December, 1889. I then reported that next to nothing was known about the East Main and Hamilton Rivers ; that like all other rivers they undoubtedly had several sources and branches, and that before they could be adopted as a boundary it would be necessary to determine in each ease which of the branches is to be adopted as the dividing line.” Then a survey was ordered and made, and then comes the


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