The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume XII


Contents








9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.





p. 852



One can only arrive at the conclusion as to what "the Indian country" is, by observing the way in which it is described. It is going to be described by "metes and bounds" in a minute. Your Lordships will find it has nothing to do with Labrador at all. It is an expression which (I am sure I can satisfy your Lordships of this) had at the time a definite connotation, "such as Alabama, Tombegbi and Fort Londoun;" I think they can be pointed out if your Lordships wish ; they are in the Southern part.

Viscount HALDANE : This is a document with regard to the South.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE : Was there a document with regard to the North ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord, I am coming to that next. Although it goes further North to the Great Lakes and Detroit, there is not the remotest reason, when you examine the documents and the maps, to suggest otherwise. "I make no doubt, but their representation on this head will be most graciously received by the King" and so forth. So far, as my Lord Haldane has just said, we are dealing with the South. My Lords, going back, if I may, to Volume III, which I am sorry to have carried you from, you will observe that we come now to this important Report of the Lords of Trade at page 903.

Viscount HALDANE : Is this the North document ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : No, my Lord, this is the reply of the Lords of Trade to the document I read last from the immediately preceding pages, 899 to 902. May I say, so that we may get the scheme of it right, that, in its turn, your Lordships will notice, is followed by another request to them, and is followed by yet another document on page 919. Would your Lordships indulge me by turning to page 919 at once, in order to see why I am so confident that when we read these things through we shall find out what "the Indian country" is. It is described in the first sentence on page 919, in the fourth line, in these words, "That large tract of country bounded by the Mississippi." It starts, "In Obedience to Your Majesty's Commands," and so on, "that that large tract of Country bounded by the Mississippi and the Limits of the Hudson Bay Company on the one hand and on the other by the Limits of Canada, East and West Florida and his Majesty's ancient Colonies." Now, my Lords, observe, of course, that if we might assume that the Lords of Trade had that map which is now on the stand before them, it is obvious, on an inspection of it, that is describing a particular area, and it is bounded on every side. The

p. 853

ancient Colonies are the thirteen ancient Colonies of the Coast ; the two Floridas turn the corner at the bottom, the Mississippi runs right up the centre (as your Lordships remember it was treated as running up to the Southern boundary of Hudson's Bay), and therefore you get the whole area thus marked round in that description, and you will find that that exactly corresponds with the maps of the time, and exactly corresponds with the Instructions to the Administrator in the South and the Administrator of the North added together, because I am going to give you the Instructions to the Administrator of the North, and it is therefore found, when one reads the documents, really not to refer to this green area at all. That is what I have in mind when I say I am sure I can satisfy you on these documents. Now, if your Lordships would be good enough to turn back to the document on page 913, I will pick out the passages which deal with the Indian question, because, of course, it deals with a great many other things as well. The passages are these : the first passage is on page 906, the second passage is on page 909, and the third passage is on page 910. There are three passages in this document which deal with it : 906 at about line 22 ; 909 at about line 30, and 910, which I at once admit is a more difficult passage accurately to construe, about line 17. Now would your Lordships look at them in order. At page 906 your Lordships see that the Lords of Trade are saying—of course, this has been read before, but I am afraid I must ask leave to read it again— "The next obvious Benefit acquired by the Cessions made to your Majesty is the Fur & Skin Trade of all the Indians in North America," and they treat that as two branches, the fur trade first and the skin trade second. "The first of these articles," that is the fur trade, "before the present Cession, was enjoyed by the French almost entirely ; the only part left in the Hands of Your Majesty's Subjects, being that carried on by the Exclusive Company of Hudson's Bay, and a very inconsiderable Quantity through the Province of New York. This Trade was acquired in virtue of the Possession which they had taken" —that is the French— "(contrary to the Stipulations of the Treaty of Utrecht) of all the Lakes in North America, communicating with the River St. Laurence, tho' the circumjacent Territory avowedly belonged to the six Nations of Indians, Acknowledged by the French to be Your Majesty's Subjects in that Treaty, and by virtue of the Claim which they afterwards set up and were suffered to maintain for a long time of forcibly excluding Your Majesty's Subjects from any Navigation in those Lakes. But this Trade which the French with the utmost Industry had carried to the greatest Extent, by means of numerous well chosen Posts and Forts" (there is the same idea, that they had Forts) "sufficient as well to overawe as to supply all the Indians upon that immense Continent." I am not disputing at all that there were aborigines who, for all I know, may be described as Indians—I do not mind the ethnology of it at all—on this Labrador area, but it could not possibly be supposed, I apprehend, that this passage has any reference to them ; nobody suggests there were any Posts there and nobody suggests that they were supplied or over-awed at all— "is now fallen intirely and exclusively into the Hands of Your Majesty's Subjects

p. 854

and may be secured and communicated to all Your Majesty's Colonies according to the Industry of each, by means of those Posts and Forts with proper regulations for the Trade with the Indians, under the Protection of such a Military Force as may preserve their tranquility, not only against Indian Incursions but be ready for their Defence against any European Attack." Then, my Lords, the second passage, as I pointed out, is to be found on page 909, where again you will find the connotation of the phrase "the Indian Country," quite clearly set out in the lower half of the page. The second passage is this : "We shall defer at present entering into any particulars, as to the number of Troops which it may be necessary to maintain for this purpose. The Number and Situation of the Posts and Forts, and the Regulations proper to be established for a free Trade" —now— "from all Your Majesty's Colonies into the Indian Country ; "that refers, my Lords, to the fact that these ancient Colonies, which were always called" Your Majesty's Colonies"the thirteen of them on the Atlantic Seaboard, were Colonies which had got a hinterland into which the settlers, including George Washington himself, were extremely anxious to penetrate. You see, "from all Your Majesty's Colonies into the Indian Country; ‘till by further information from Your Majesty's Commander in Chief of America, and from Your Majesty's Agents for Indian Affairs.’" Lord Haldane will notice that it is "agents" in the plural, because there are two of them, neither more nor less, just two. "We shall be enabled to make a more full and particular Report upon so interesting and important a Subject. And We apprehend that no such Delay can be attended with very material Inconvenience, since, if Your Majesty shall be pleased to adopt the general proposition of leaving a large Tract of Country, round the great Lakes as an Indian Country, open to Trade, but not to Grants and Settlements, the Limits of such Territory will be sufficiently ascertained by the Bounds to be given to the Governors of Canada and Florida on the North and South, and the Mississippi on the West." In this particular passage he does not put in what is really implied : "And Your Majesty's ancient Colonies."

Lord WARRINGTON : But he goes on.

Sir JOHN SIMON : "And by the strict Directions to be given to Your Majesty's several Governors of Your ancient Colonies" —I am much obliged, my Lords, he does— "for preventing their making any new Grants of Lands beyond certain fixed Limits to be laid down in the Instructions for that purpose." That is the second passage, my Lord.

Lord SUMNER : "And we apprehend that in the mean time the Security of this Trade will be sufficiently provided for by the Forts already erected."

Sir JOHN SIMON : "and such Garrisons as Your Commander in Chief may, at his Discretion, think proper to keep in them." My own?

p. 855

eyesight does not serve me at this distance, but I am under the impression that there is a reference to "the Indian country" in the Mitchell Map ; it mentions a series of Indian Nations at any rate. If your Lordships would turn to the Canadian Atlas, it really is quite clear if your Lordships would take the sort of map which is No. 28, you see the thing at once. What is so striking is that this is, your Lordships see, a map of 1763, upon which has been put the indication of some of the adjustments made in that year, and here you will find exactly the boundary which is necessary ; that is to say, you will find that you will have the boundary of the new Province of Quebec, which is in yellow ; you will have the boundary of the ancient Colonies, you will have at the bottom the boundary of the two Floridas, and you will have on the West the boundary of the Mississippi, and you have at the top the boundary of Hudson's Bay ; and without saying that you get there what is an absolutely continuous line, it is quite sufficient to justify the general view that you are dealing with that country which, I will show you in a moment, is described as "The interior country," and the country which cannot be got at in any other way, and the Forts in question are all Forts in this neighbourhood. That is what these gentlemen, I venture to think, are quite plainly talking about. It may be necessary to look at one or two other maps in a moment. The third passage on page 910 is, I quite agree, a little more difficult for me ; I think on any view (I do not know whether my learned friend agrees) it is rather a difficult passage to construe. The suggestion has been made to me, and I think it is an ingenious and it may be a helpful suggestion, that the passage on page 910, when it speaks of a particular area as "beyond the sources of the rivers" is really using the word, as you may say, from the London point of view. In ancient Rome, if you wanted to describe that part of Gaul, which lies about Marseilles, you called it Trans-Alpine Gaul, and if you wanted to describe that part of Gaul which is the Italian Riviera, you called it Cis-Alpine Gaul, and that was because you were speaking from the point of view of Rome ; and I rather think when you are reading this passage on page 910, that really the passage is to be understood as though you were, so to say, in London, and looking across to the Continent of America. So read, it becomes quite intelligible, because what it says at line 10 is : "Canada as possessed and claimed by the French consisted of an immense Tract of Country including as well the whole Lands to. the westward indefinitely which was the Subject of their Indian Trade" —to the Westward you notice, the illimitable West, that is going right away— "as all that country from the Southern Bank of the River St. Lawrence where they carried on their Encroachments. It is needless to state with any degree of pre- cision the Bounds and Limits of this extensive Country, for We should humbly propose to Your Majesty that the new Government of Canada should be restricted, so as to leave on the one hand, all the Lands lying about the great Lakes and beyond the Sources of the Rivers which fall into the River St. Lawrence from the North, from Cape Roziere to Lake Champlain, along the Heights where the Sources of the Rivers rise, which fall into the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic

p. 856

Ocean, to be annexed to Nova Scotia" ; your Lordships know there is a rather curious geographical puzzle as to exactly how you fit this phrase into the maps of the time on any view. I do not say it either hurts or helps me ; it is a difficulty. It has been suggested to me by my friend, Mr. Pearson, that really if you consider that they were speaking of this whole country looking at it, as it were, from London, it may very well be that just. as they speak in line 12 of "Lands to the Westward indefinitely," so in the same way the indication, admittedly vague, is an indication that, standing here, you see it beyond the rivers which run into the St. Lawrence. It does not hurt me on any view, it might perhaps bring in my yellow.

Lord SUMNER : If you read the "lands" in line 19 as qualified by two particulars, one, that they lie about the Great Lakes, and the other that they lie beyond the sources of the Rivers which fall into the River St. Lawrence from the North, they may be two categories of lands.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I rather think it is a single description, given by two phrases in combination.

Lord SUMNER : If the lands dealt with are such as can be said only to lie about the Great Lakes, and to lie beyond the sources of the rivers which fall into the St. Lawrence from the North, they at any rate seem to be West of any land of Montagnais and Naskapis ; if, on the other hand, the first refers to land about the Great Lakes, and the second, a separate category, is lands which lie beyond the sources, then you have to deal with this question about "beyond the sources of the Rivers which fall into the River St. Lawrence."

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord, I think that is very just ; and in support of the view that this is a complicated description of a single subject matter, I have the fact that I have already had the subject matter described in the same document at page 906 and in the same document at page 909, and that as soon as I get the reply to the document I get the reply, on page 919, in terms which show that what the Lords of Trade were understood to mean is an area which is a large tract of country bounded by the Mississippi and the limits of the Hudson's Bay Company on the one hand, and on the other by the bounds of Canada, East and West Florida and His Majesty's ancient Colonies ; so that I really have within the four corners of the document, an indication, apart altogether from the supplementary matter I am now going to call attention to, that this, as a matter of fact, means this interior country.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I have some difficulty in accepting this suggestion, if you compare this and the next paragraph.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, I follow, my Lord.

[1927lab]




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