The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume XII


9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Finlay.

Sir John Simon.


Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord

Sir John Simon.

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Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, it was. There is a date on this map which I wish to call attention to ; it is the Mortier map of 1693. I do not know any map in the series, if carefully inspected, which more clearly establishes the proposition that at this period the watershed was constantly sought for and used as a boundary. 1693, your Lordships appreciate, is after the Hudson's Bay Company had got their Charter, but it was before the Hudson's Bay Company had made any very extensive or effective settlement, and it is first of all striking to observe, if your Lordships will kindly follow what I am suggesting, on the lefthand side of the Hudson's Bay there is a place called Port Nelson, and there is an inscription which is written upon the land side of Port Nelson : “ Poste François decouvert et occupé par la Compagnie qui s'est formée en Canada pour la Baye de Hudson.” The Company that is there referred to is not the Hudson Bay Company which Charles II founded, but it is a rival French Company due to the efforts of the French Authorities in French Canada to promote trading relations in that part of the world, and it illustrates the fact which your Lordships know culminated in the most violent controversy on the shore of Hudson's Bay, the fact that you had French traders and explorers pushing their way up there, while you had the British enterprise of the Hudson's Bay Company resisting them with all their might. That is one of the reasons, your Lordships remember, why when the very unsatisfactory Treaty of Ryswick was entered into only four years later–it was in 1697–the British position then being a very weak one, the Hudson's Bay Company were constrained to give up some parts of the rights which they really had if they simply relied upon the grant of Charles II. Then would your Lordships please observe a very very remarkable thing that follows; there you get a dotted line which I assert, and I think can prove, to be an indication of the watershed. Would your Lordship carry your eye along the dotted line from the left till you reach an inscription, “ Lac des Temiscaming.”
Just at the word “ Temiscaming,” or just above it rather, you will notice the inscription “ Separation des Eaux.” That is an indication by the cartographer–which I daresay is quite contrary to the physical facts, but it does not matter–at that sort of place the waters are running both ways, or rather, it is divided there. I am not saying whether it is right or not, I am only saying this is the method adopted by everybody.

Lord SUMNER : It is a good line. The next thing the line does is to charge direct into the line of mountains.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I quite agree. Would your Lordships carry your eyes along this dotted line with all those imperfections or inaccuracies–there is a very remarkable inscription immediately underneath the bottom of Hudson's Bay. I am sorry the print is so small, but I think I can read it. “Poste pour couper les Sauvages par le haut de la traite de Tadoussac et les empêcher de descendre a La Baye de Hudson.” That is a very remarkable indication : it indicates as I apprehend this ; the French King, of course, who was the Sovereign on the St. Lawrence,

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granted, as your Lordships know well, farming rights and leases and monopolies of trade in this area called the Traite de Tadousac, and no doubt was much disposed to grant more than he had got. I should not be at all surprised if he sometimes authorised people to go further than, according to British ideas, they ought to go. But on the other hand, there were the British enterprises on Hudson's Bay which were pushing uphill from the north just as the French traders were pushing from the St. Lawrence uphill from the south.

Viscount FINLAY : Where do you understand the post which that legend relates to was situated. The legend covers an enormous amount of territory.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : There is a little square mark above it.

Sir JOHN SIMON : There is a little square mark. I think, Lord Finlay, in this map they mark the posts with a little square, and then with a cross in between. You will find a similar use of that marking on the post near Port Nelson.

Lord WARRINGTON : It is the same if you look through a magnifying glass. It is either a cross or a fleur–de–lis, I am not sure which.

Sir JOHN SIMON : The third illustration of the same sort is to be found on the extreme left of the map, also on the dotted line, where you get the rather remarkable inscription : Poste du Sr Duluth pour empêcher les Assiniboels et autres Sauvages de descendre a la Baye de Hudson.” All I am saying is, I think it is pretty plain that that dotted line, however imperfectly drawn, was thought to be indicating roughly, at any rate, some sort of height of land or a watershed, and if I am right about that, then observe the significance of the dotted line rather more to the east, where you get “ Labrador ou Terre des Esquimaux,” and a dotted line with “ Nouvelle France ” marked below.

Lord SUMNER : I should have thought personally these posts which checked the descent of the savages towards Hudson's Bay were really posts upon a navigable stream by which they must descend.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I think that is true, that is a very practical observation. At the same time, my Lords will attach whatever weight they think proper to the inscription which specially struck me, namely “ Poste pour couper les Sauvages par le haut de la traite de Tadoussac.”

Lord SUMNER : How do you exactly translate that.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I prefer to read it, however imperfectly, in the language in which it is written. At any rate I rather understand it to

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mean, if I translate it absolutely literally it evidently is, “ at the height.”

Lord SUMNER : Of the Treaty ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : No, “ traite de Tadousac.” The word “ traite ” means there “ trading.”

Viscount FINLAY : Would you kindly just read the words of the French. I got down to “ Post pour couper les Sauvages ” –

Sir JOHN SIMON : "“–par le haut de la traite ”–by the height.

Viscount HALDANE : What is that that follows ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : “de la traite de Tadousac.” Your Lordships will, I daresay, remember that the French King granted an area which was called indifferently the Royaume du Roi or was called “ la traite de Tadousac,” or was sometimes called “ les pontes du Roi.”

The LORD CHANCELLOR : The “ traite ” is a tract of land ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : I think they used “ traite ” as “ trade ” ; it constantly occurs in these old documents ; I think it is the trading area.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Quite incorrectly you find the accent put on it in some of these documents.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, I have been rather puzzled with the word, and I have read a good many of these French documents for the purpose of the case. Constantly you find “ traitor avec les Sauvages,” to trade with them. I do not wish to spend too much time on it, because I quite agree we cannot go on too far.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : The dotted line from that point onwards runs above the rivers, except one river, where it seems to cut it.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, I could not possibly attach exaggerated importance to the smaller things. It is quite obvious, whoever did this did not spend very long doing that dotted line, it was quite a rough thing ; all I am saying is, to say the least, it is not inconsistent with the notions which I have ventured to put before the Court.

Viscount HALDANE : You do not expect exactitude.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Indeed there was not much good in it, as nobody knew what was there. Now there follow three or four maps which I should like to group together. You will find it convenient to turn to the last of them, because they really are editions of the same map,

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they are the maps of a very distinguished man, my Lords, Guillaume de L'Isle. Guillaume de L'Isle was a cartographer in Paris, who was the official adviser in these matters to Louis XV, and who was consulted by Peter the Great ; he bore the title of “ Premier Géographe du Roi.” He was undoubtedly a geographer of distinction.

Viscount HALDANE : It was published at Amsterdam.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, some of them were, that is quite right, but he carried on his work in Paris very largely. Your Lordships I think will find it convenient to take 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8; they are all editions of Guillaume De L'Isle's maps. I have no objection to examining them in detail, I have done it personally with the help of my friends, but I think for the purposes of any point I need to make, you get the clearest indication if you go to the later one, because there you get colours which rather help your Lordships.

Lord WARRINGTON : 4 seems to be a later one ; it is 1708. No. 6 is 1700

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is right.

Lord WARRINGTON : They extend from 1700 to 1708, or thereabouts.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, as a matter of fact the inscription we have printed opposite the first of them gives you the details if you want them. All I am concerned with is to see what Guillaume de L'Isle had got to say about this thing so far as he could be regarded as any sort of authority. Would your Lordships think it convenient to take No. 8. First of all would your Lordships notice this : No. 8 I think is the map of 1703, and this one, Lord Haldane, was published at Paris at “ le Quai de 1'Horloge ” and the “ Golden Eagle.”
It was a grand thing when Messrs. Stanfords sold their maps by signs of that sort hung up outside their shops. There are several things worth noticing about this map. First of all would you observe this is one of the maps which on the right hand side indicates this large body of water which penetrates the general trend of the land on the Labrador seaboard, and there you get the inscription which is repeated in many maps but you get it in its fullest form, these are the words “ Entrée trouvée en 1586 par Davis Anglais.”

Viscount FINLAY : Where is that. Take “ Terre de Labrador.”

Lord WARRINGTON : It is here (indicating on the map).

Viscount FINLAY : I do not read it in that way.

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Sir JOHN SIMON : I read it in this way : “Entrée trouvée,” then. you see the figures–“ En. 1586 par Davis ”–the British sailor –“ Anglais qui trafiqua ”–it is the same thing there–“ Avee ceux du pays ”–with the people of the. country–“ et dans laquelle ”–in which Inlet–“ Weymouth s'avança 30 lienes,” that is 30 leagues. It was not Davis himself who went 30 leagues up the Hamilton Inlet ; it was one of his lieutenants or companions whose name was Weymouth. That kind of inscription occurs again and again. It is a little striking that that should be the kind of picture which at the beginning of the eighteenth century you got of the break in the Atlantic seaboard of Labrador when you remember that when the instructions come to be drawn up for the Governor of Newfoundland, Governor Graves, on the occasion when all the coasts of Labrador are annexed to his jurisdiction, one of the instructions which is specifically given is this, that he is to explore the Davis Inlet for the purpose of ascertaining more accurately the character of what is within.

Viscount FINLAY : What do you suppose that corresponds to on the maps of the present day ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : We have had this point, your Lordships will remember, before. Really the matter is quite clear, and in the documents, if necessary, I can prove it ; I state it categorically, the Inlet that is there being described as running 30 leagues in is, in fact, Hamilton Inlet. There was for some time a confusion of nomenclature ; the thing which is now called Davis Bay, or Davis Inlet, is not the same thing as Hamilton Inlet, but was to the north of it.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : You see “ Baye des Esquimaux,” down below. I think that is probably Davis Inlet, but they fitted the facts which, related to Hamilton Inlet to Davis Inlet.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Your Lordship puts it quite right, that is what it is.

Viscount FINLAY : Davis occurs in connection with Davis Straits, which is a good deal further to the north.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It is the same man.

Viscount FINLAY : It is the same man, certainly, but the place is a good deal to the north.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Davis was an explorer and navigator. Your Lordship has in mind the passage I was referring to in the instructions. I do not invite your Lordships to turn to it unless you wish, but I may give you the reference because it is useful to write it against this sort of inscription on the map. When Thomas Graves was given his instructions, in view of the fact that the Labrador territory was being


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