The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume XII


Contents








9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount
Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Macmillan

Sir John Simon.

Viscount
Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount
Haldane.

Sir John Simon.





p. 862

you extend the boundary of some particular Colonial unit, so that their hunting grounds fall within it. As I think Lord Haldane pointed out the other day, it has always been the case in Canada, that, of course the radical title remaining in the Crown, Indian reserves may well fall within the boundaries of a province, and the Indian enjoyment of the Indian rights in the Indian reserves is not in any way forfeited or taken away because that is so.
Therefore, the question between the Lords of Trade and King George III was not whether you should deprive the Indians of their rights—in fact, it was a fundamental point of British policy to do nothing of the kind, and to assure them that you were never thinking of it—but the question was : would it be wiser to make the boundary of Quebec this limited, lozenge­shape, slate­coloured area, so that the area beyond, the interior country, remains unorganised, or would it not be better to throw this interior country into the Province of Quebec, while at the same time you continue to insist upon the policy that there is to be no private appropriation of Indian lands ?
That is exactly what Lord Egremont says at the bottom of page 915, in a very instructive passage which is to be found there. He says : "Your Report, dated the 8th of last Month, having been laid before the King, and His Majesty having taken the Same into Consideration ; I am, in Consequence thereof, to acquaint your Lordships, That the King approves the Erecting Three New Governments in North America, under the Denominations your Lordships propose, of Canada, East Florida, and West Florida ; But, with regard to the Limits of these Governments, as described in the Report, and marked out in the Chart thereunto annexed ; Altho' His Majesty entirely concurs in your Lord- ships Idea, of not permitting any Grant of Lands, or New Settlements to be made, for the present, beyond the Bounds proposed by your Lord- ships ; Yet the King thinks, that great Inconveniences might arise, from so large a Tract of Land being left, without being Subject to the Civil Jurisdiction of some Governor, in Virtue of His Majesty's Com- mission, under the Great Seal of Great Britain ; And that, (besides the Difficulties there might be, for Want of such a Civil Jurisdiction, in bringing to Justice Criminals, and Fugitives, who may take Refuge in that Country,) Their not being included within some established Government might, in Time to come, furnish Matter of Dispute, with regard to the Property" —he means the radical title to the property, the Royal Title— "And other Powers, who might hereafter find Means of Access to those Countries, might take Possession thereof, as derelict Lands." Of course, nothing is more certain than that, as long as the Governors of Newfoundland are in the effective charge of the Atlantic coast of Labrador, and the Hudson's Bay Company is in effective charge of the Hudson's Bay side of Labrador, and the Quebec authorities are in effective charge of the north bank of the River St. Lawrence—nothing is more certain than that you will never be able to get any foreigner coming into my green area until somebody invents an aeroplane. So that it can hardy be that they are there saying : "If we do not include some part of the green, it may be that foreigners will find their way in."

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They are not referring to that at all, but to the interior country, which you would get at by going up the Mississippi, or perhaps from the Rocky Mountains side

Viscount HALDANE : I think the serious point is this, that it deals expressly with solicitude, with not disturbing the Indians or causing suspicion in their minds ; and the general policy, whether it prevails in the appointed territories or not, is the general policy of the King. One must bear that in mind in construing any allocations.

Sir JOHN SIMON : If I may say so, I think that is a very just observation, and I try to do so ; but, of course, at the same time, one has to see what is the actual subject matter that they are dealing with more particularly, my Lord Haldane, because I may fairly claim that here they have passed from a previous subject, Labrador, and have now entered upon a new topic ; or at least that is my submission.
Now just let us see how the King goes on. As you will notice, he says : "It is not that I want to permit anybody to appropriate as private property the lands in the Indian country ; but would it not be better to throw that into Quebec ?" Therefore he says : "And other Powers, who might hereafter find Means of Access to those Countries, might take Possession thereof, as derelict Lands : The King therefore is of Opinion" —Now, my Lords, see what it is that he proposes to do in order to solve this difficulty— "that, in the Commission for the Governor of Canada," —they had not yet decided whether to call it Quebec or Canada. It was the same thing— "all the Lakes, viz., Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior, should be included, with all the Country, as far North, and West, as the Limits of the Hudsons Bay Company, and the Misisssippi."
I will read on in a moment, but you must imagine His Majesty, through his Secretary of State, as having before his eyes the map which your Lordships have just been examining, namely Bowen's map. He looks round, and he sees the five great Lakes ; he sees the names of the Indian tribes all about, the Iroquois, and so on ; and he says : "This is an area which I do not like to leave unorganised, because people can approach it from the south and west," and so he says : "We ought to put that into the Commission," and he goes on, at about line 15, "And also that all Lands whatsoever, ceded by the late Treaty, and which are not already included within the Limits of His Majesty's ancient Colonies, or intended to form the Governments of East and West Florida, as described in your Lordships Report, be assigned to the Government of Canada, unless your Lordships should suggest any other Distribution, which might answer the purpose more effectually."
Now let us see what happens. There is an answer, which you will find on page 919, from the Lords of Trade, in which they, at any rate, are under no misapprehension as to what the Indian country is. They say : "Well, it is all very well to say that you ought to throw this Indian country into the Quebec Commission, but that would seem to be acknowledging that the Indian country was obtained by cession from France, whereas in fact the Indian country was never obtained by cession

p. 864

from France ; it was obtained as a result of treaties and purchases which we had entered into with the Indian tribes." Now that language does not fit the interior of Labrador at all. My learned friend insisted that, so far as Labrador is concerned, we did get it by cession from France. That is the whole point. Not only that, but it is not true to say, of course, that it ever was acquired by contract or purchase from the Indians. Here is the letter : "May it please Your Majesty. In Obedience to Your Majesty's Commands contained in a Letter from the Earl of Egremont, dated the 14th of July last signifying to Us Your Majesty's Most gracious Approbation of Our Idea, that that large Tract of Country"—marked yellow on my map up there on the screen — "bounded by the Mississippi and the limits of the Hudson Bay Com- pany on the one hand and on the other by the Limits of Canada, East and West Florida and His Majesty's ancient Colonies, should for the present be made subject to no grants of Lands nor to any Settlements, it should be put under some civil Jurisdiction, by a Commission under the Great Seal of Great Britain, so as to prevent any But acquainting us, that it was Your Majesty's Pleasure, that objection, which might be formed, as to the property of it, or its being considered as abandoned or derelict, or it's becoming a refuge for Criminals and Fugitives, and for these Reasons, that the whole of this Territory should be inserted in the Commission of the Governor of Canada"—How can anybody say that the words I have just read, if they are this territory, include my green ? Of course, they cannot— "and assigned to that Government, unless we should suggest to Your Majesty some disposition which would answer these Purposes more effectually and directing us on this Matter. . . ." Then they say : "We have taken it into consideration," and they say " we do not think it is a good plan." Look at their reason : "We are apprehensive that, should this country"—that is the Indian country— "be annexed to the Government of Canada, a Colour might be taken on some future occasion for supposing that Your Majesty's title to it, had taken it's rise, singly from the Cessions made by France, in the late Treaty"—I should like to know, Is it or is it not the case of the Dominion of Canada that the title of His Majesty King George the Third to the green area was obtained by Cession from Canada ? Of course, it is their case, yet it is perfectly obvious the people who wrote this were dealing with an area the title to which was not so derived. They say : "Whereas as to the Sovereignty over the Indian Tribes, particularly of the Six Nations, rests on a more solid and even a more equitable Foundation ; and perhaps nothing is more necessary than that just Impressions on this Subject should be carefully preserved in the Minds of the Indians, Your Majesty's Title to the Lakes and circumjacent territory as well whose Ideas might be blended and confounded if they should be brought to consider themselves as under the Government of Canada." Then, my Lord, most important, on page 920, they go on to say under the third head : "If this great Country should be annexed to the Government of Canada, we are apprehensive, that the Powers of such Government could not be carried properly into execution, either in respect of the

p. 865

Indians or British Traders, unless by means of the Garrisons at the different Posts and Forts in that country, which must contain the greatest part of Your Majesty's American Forces, and consequently the Governor of Canada would become virtually Commander in Chief or constant and inextricable disputes would arise, between him, and the commanding Officers of Your Majesty's Troops." Then they go on to say : "If these Objections should appear of Weight to Your Majesty, we would humbly propose" —this is what was done— "that a Commission under the Great Seal, for the Government of this Country, should be given to the Commander in Chief of Your Majesty's Troops for the time being adapted to the protection of the Indians and the fur trade of Your Majesty's Subjects." Would your Lordships be good enough to turn over to page 923 at line 20, and you will observe that their recommendation is in the next document described as a Commission to the Commander in Chief for the Government of the Interior country. So it is quite clear when you read these documents, granted the geographical description is not minute and precise to a point, that the area in question was an interior country, as indeed it is constantly called in the Instructions to which I will call attention in a moment. My humble submission is, therefore, that when one takes these documents, which I have now reached the end of, that there is no ground in the documents themselves for supposing that there was such an exclusion of any portion of the green as my learned friends have been at pains to suggest.

Mr. MACMILLAN : Do you say, Sir John, I shall find the Commission given to the Commander in Chief for the Government of the Interior country, because I do not find that.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I am going to deal with that. I did not say you would find it, I said you would find the words described as "the Interior of the Country."

Mr. MACMILLAN : Was any such Commission granted ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : I will look for it.

Viscount HALDANE : It may be that they did not deliberately make out any Commission for a Commander in Chief of this country, because it may be they thought : "we have got a Naval Commander in Chief close at hand, there are no enemies, it is enough to be able to give instructions to proceed if necessary to the Interior of Labrador to keep order."

Sir JOHN SIMON : I rather think that is the true view. What is coming now, Lord Haldane, as you have anticipated, as indeed I have observed, is when you examine what was the centre of anxiety, and just consider as I am going to put before the Board shortly, the Pontiac Rebellion, and when you look at the documents for the purpose of

p. 866

crushing that Rebellion and introducing peace in the country, every one of the documents is addressed into the heart of this interior country, so much so that when they draw a chart for the purpose of showing what is the area to which the Indians have been secured, they do not even trouble to include on the chart the piece of ground which is Labrador at all.

Viscount HALDANE : It may be, if the theory is true, they thought it better not to make any civil allocation of territory, but to leave it as it was.

Sir JOHN SIMON: A thing which always seems to me to be a little important on this aspect of the case is this ; of course, there were plenty of areas in the world in the middle of the Eighteenth Century where the grant of all the coasts, interpreted as is suggested it might be interpreted, might conceivably involve travelling back hundreds of miles ; I quite appreciate the good sense of the criticism that you would need extremely strong language to make out such a case. That would be true, for example, if you were to grant all the coasts on the Pacific ; at this stage nobody knew how the land lay at all, or how far back it was. It would be true if you took tropical Africa in the Eighteenth Century, or South America. But the point is, when I come to my Peninsula of Labrador, though, of course, nobody knew what was inside it, they knew pretty well the line of its Atlantic seaboard, they knew very accurately indeed the Hudson's Bay boundary, they knew the width of the Isthmus, therefore they were not adventuring into a void and giving a man an authority which, when it came to be worked out, might conceivably involve millions of square miles, but they were giving him a portion of the whole, the outside boundaries of which were perfectly well known ; when you add to that, the land would be perfectly worthless, it does not seem an extravagant view to take, as your Lordship said just now : Well, the Governor of Newfoundland will deal with that. Now let us turn to the really serious matter, which was the Pontiac Rebellion.
I do not know how I can most conveniently and briefly put my next point, but if your Lordships will allow me, I would venture to do it in this way : I am anxious to remind your Lordships, and I can do it in a very few minutes, of the salient features of this trouble in the Indian country. It is an interesting piece of history ; the authorities for it are well known ; there is an extremely good book which I have had the privilege of reading for the purposes of this case (and I am very glad to have been called upon to do it), which is Mr. Francis Parkman's two volumes on the Conspiracy of Pontiac

Viscount HALDANE : Is it a Canadian Book ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : American, but it was published by Macmillans. Dr. Parkman is admittedly a great author on this period. It contains, incidentally, an extremely interesting map from which you are able to

[1927lab]




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