Confederation
1864-1949



The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


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Volume XII








4 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Viscount Haldane.

Mr. Macmillan.

Viscount Haldane.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Macmillan.

4 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.




p. 619

position on page 4008, at line 10 : “ I do not contend that the boundary proposed is a legal boundary, but on the contrary admit that it is a conventional one. The true limit of the Province of Quebec on the North would probably be the boundary between New France and the territories of Great Britain on the northern part of the continent”—in other words, Hudson's Bay Territory—“ There was some difference of opinion between France and England as to where the boundary should be, and the commissioners appointed to decide the question never reported. Even if that boundary had been finally established it could not now be adhered to, because in the interval, after an arrangement and a rearrangement, the Imperial Government finally detached from the Province of Quebec and placed under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland the strip along the Atlantic coast extending from Anse Sablon to Hudson Strait described by ‘ Letters Patent ’ dated 28th March, 1876, as follows : ‘ The Coast of Labrador from the entrance of Hudson's Strait to a line to be drawn due north and south from Anse Sablon on the said coast to the 52nd degree of north latitude, and all the Islands adjacent to that part of the Coast of Labrador.’ What therefore is now aimed at is a conventional line which will also be convenient and easily ascertained, and it is believed that in the description appended to this memorandum that aim has been attained, the only portion of the lines it describes which would appear to require to be established by any further actual survey being the right line connecting the waters of the East Main River with the waters of the Ashuanipi,” and so on. Then comes the description of the proposed North–eastern boundary of Quebec from the purpose of this conventional, though not necessarily legal, boundary.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I did not follow that. Did you read line 12, where it says : “ At that time, if I am not very munch mistaken’ ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : I do not know whether I read that or not, but you can have an opportunity of reading it later on.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : It was read.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It rather throws light upon the reason why they suggested what they did.

Mr. MACMILLAN : At the foot of page 4099 there is the proposed description of the boundaries of Quebec for this conventional purpose, recognising Newfoundland there, “ and thence easterly along the middle of the said bay or inlet ”—that is along the Hamilton Bay or Inlet—“ until it strikes ”—now, my Lord, what ?—“ the Westerly Boundary of the territory under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland and thence southerly along said boundary to the point where it strikes the north shore of the Anse Sabion in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the said boundary being shown in red as far as Hamilton Inlet on the map
4 N

p. 620

hereto attached.” So that what was done by the resolution of 1886 was not, as my learned friend said, that the Dominion adopted in turn what had been reported, but on the contrary the Dominion considered the matter fully, got a survey and report, and then said : “ The boundary which we propose (which is not really a legal boundary, because technically we have got all this already probably under the Quebec Act, but it is an administrative boundary for which we want, legislative sanction) we will carry along until we come, on the frontier to the boundary of Newfoundland, a coastal strip of Newfoundland, and then we will run down that line until we come to Anse Sablon, where Newfoundland terminates.” That was what was done ; and how it can be said that the Dominion adopted what was proposed in the Resolution of 1886 I fail to see. The Legislations that followed the Act are, first, that of the Province of Quebec in Volume VIII at page 4015, and the legislation of the Dominion in Volume I, page 247.
Now, my Lords, of course, it is quite right to say that that was in 1898, and if Canada, or its Province of Quebec, was legislating then in territory which was the territory of Newfoundland, it was acting ultra vires, quite plainly. But to say that the resolution of 1886 was the basis of these Acts is inaccurate. What was actually done was to recognise—it may have been erroneously—where the Newfoundland frontier was, but to recognise a frontier on the Labrador coast, and to carry the boundary of Quebec, as proposed to be conventionally extended, down alongside that boundary, preserving to Newfoundland the territory within its jurisdiction.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Is that map anywhere which is referred to in the Quebec Statute ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord, it is in our Atlas.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I should like to look at it, just to follow this boundary.

Viscount HALDANE : I suppose, strictly speaking, the Dominion was taking advantage of the Order in Council.

Mr. MACMILLAN : It really followed upon this, that after the decision of the Ontario–Manitoba case, it was thought desirable to carry up the boundary of Quebec to a line in continuance of that, and that is how the matter came up. It came up in 1886 first of all, and then there was a certain proposal as to what should be done, and this very point about whether it was not legislation which was superfluous because it was already in Quebec under the Act of 1774 was raised. Then they said : “ Let us have a conventional boundary of Quebec for administrative purposes.” That is the boundary that they have fixed and which recognised the selvedge. They recognised that Newfoundland was seated on the coast, and they recognised that in their Act of 1898

p. 621

Lord SUMNER : Which number is it ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : No. 12, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE : Assuming that the territory in question was not Newfoundland, but was territory which had not been allotted at all, this legislation of 1880 gives it to Canada.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, my Lord, if it was no–man's–land, it became Canada's then. Then they stopped the boundary at where they conceived, and where we are now to submit, was the boundary of the coast of Newfoundland, at the Hamilton Inlet. It is very near the coast. The description is : “ thence easterly along the middle of the said bay or inlet until it strikes the Westerly Boundary of the territory under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland, and thence southerly along the said boundary to the point where it strikes the north shore of the Anse Sablon.” So that they recognised at that time, and the Legislature recognised, the presence of Newfoundland, and they said : “ We must of course stop short of the strip of land which Newfoundland has got.” That I think was the last of the subjects which my learned friend prayed in aid, and I quite accept his view that they are all subordinate ; but I could not, as I have said, leave them without making my comments upon them.

Viscount HALDANE : Before you wholly pass away from these things, will you tell me, on your general map, about the distances. Have you got them ? For instance, take the broader part from the blue line across to Cape Harrison, or wherever you like. How much is that in miles ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : I will get the geographer to tell me the distance. There is a scale there. First of all, from the blue line to Cape Harrison, a perpendicular. Would your Lordship like that ? We can easily do that.

Viscount HALDANE : From the blue line, a line west and east.

Mr. MACMILLAN : As near as may be, it is 300 miles, my Lord, if your Lordship means what I have measured, which is a perpendicular line dropped from Cape Harrison to the blue line.

Viscount HALDANE : I did not mean that, I meant across.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Horizontally.

Mr. MACMILLAN : The depth inland ? From Cape Harrison to the nearest point on the blue ?
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p. 622

Lord SUMNER : Somewhere about 220.

Mr. MACMILLAN : As near as may be about 230 miles.

Lord WARRINGTON : That is just under the 55th parallel.

Mr. MACMILLAN : 230 miles to the nearest point of the blue, the ribbon.

Viscount HALDANE : Let us look where the Moravians were, at Hebron. That is much shorter.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I take the middle of the blue and I take the letter “ H ” at Hebron. I make that roughly about 50 miles.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Is my friend now measuring from the head of the inlet or from the general trend of the coast.

Mr. MACMILLAN : No, I was measuring from the “ H ” at Hebron to the middle of the blue line.

Sir JOHN SIMON : My friend's 50 miles is from what I may call the general trend of the coast, not from the head of the inlet ; when he gave ou the number of miles from the sea, it was from the head of the inlet concerned.

Viscount HALDANE : From Cape Chidley down to Anse Sablon, a line down to the 52nd parallel, what is that roughly ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : From Cape Chidley to Anse Sablon Point is about 650 miles roughly.

Viscount FINLAY : From where to where ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : From this point, I have taken the corner here, to Cape Chidley, I have just drawn a line direct across there. (Describing.) Then the greatest depth inland would naturally be from about the point here, you are coming round the corner at Belle Isle, from about there to there, that would be the greatest depth inland. (Describing on on plan.) I will just measure that also. I am told 417 miles as near as may be. The greatest depth inland from the coast in the area shown green is under 450 miles.
When I told your Lordships this morning about the terms of the Bill, I had not the actual terms before me, but it is quite plain there was a blank. It is : “ so much of the said coast as lies to the westward of a line to be drawn due north and south from the bay or harbour of Anse Sablon, inclusive, as far as the ”—then comes a blank—“ degree of north latitude, with the island of Anticosti.”

p. 623

The LORD CHANCELLOR : In the Bill, is it brought in ?

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes, the Bill of 1825.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : If I conjecture rightly, that word was put in in committee in one House or the other.

LORD SUMNER : How does it continue after the blank ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : My friend will read the words, it only leaves out the ordinal, it leaves out 52nd ; everything else is clear.

Mr. MACMILLAN : That is quite right, the “ inclusive ” precedes that ; it runs thus : “ that so much of the said coast as lies to the westward of a line to be drawn due north and south from the bay or harbour of Anse Sablon, inclusive, as far as the ‘ blank ’ degree of north latitude.”

The LORD CHANCELLOR : It has got “ degree.”

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : It is simply that the word “ fifty–second ” is left out.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Yes. “ With the Island of Anticosti, and all other islands adjacent to such part ; ” it does not advance matters much one way or the other.
I have concluded my main argument to your Lordships, and I propose to take up the question of Lake Melville. That point arises in this way, it assumes success on my part in my argument that the coast of Labrador within the meaning of the constituent documents is a strip of coast. I admit that it has a depth inland, but that depth inland measured by the purpose of the grant and the use to which the land is appropriated under the grant. Whether it is one mile or less, as seems to have been considered by the Commissions to the Governors of Newfoundland, or in the French delimitations, or whether it is more, my measure of the trip is the purpose and the use, but that assumes a coast and a measurement inland from that coast. We are in agreement as to where that coast, in the sense of the shore line of Labrador is. All those Islands dotted down the coast of Labrador, are all of them Newfoundland. The coast, in my sense of the term, is also Newfoundland, and we are in agreement with Newfoundland that we do not invoke here the doctrine of jumping across bays which are less than 6 miles in width, we do not invoke any of those Chapters of the law which were discussed in the Alaskan case. We admit the coast. from which the measurement inland is to be made follows the sinuosity of the Labrador coast, it follows the bays, and, therefore, the distance inland would

[1927lab]




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