The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume XII


Contents








9 Nov., 1926.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Warrington.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Finlay.

9 Nov., 1926.

Viscount Finlay.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.




p. 826

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, but it is made in exactly the same year.

Lord SUMNER : Before you leave the passage you have been referring to, I see at the top of page 3777 there are some words which I think you have referred to before. It is a quotation from Bellin's book, I think. " Au nord du Detroit de Belle-Isle sont les Côtes de Labrador, grand et vaste pays, que les Francois avaient nommé anciennement nouvelle Bretagne." Of course, it is only Bellin.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It is only Bellin, I quite agree. That is the passage the Lord Chancellor picked up when he saw the book. I will tell your Lordship this. Of course, I do not wish to do other than serve the Board. I suppose it is conceivable that it might be said that " grand et vaste pays " qualifies Labrador as distinguished from " Les Côtes." I do not say it is right, but I should have thought it did as a matter of fact refer to " Les Côtes."

Lord WARRINGTON : A little lower down he describes Esquimaux Bay, but he does not say anything further than simply saying that it goes back 40 leagues.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes.

Lord SUMNER : I notice also he says that before 1713 New-foundland belonged to the French, and it was then they ceded it to the English.

Sir JOHN SIMON: There was, as your Lordship knows, under the Treaty of Utrecht, a cession of so much of Newfoundland as was in the possession of the French. The fact was that the French had some settlements on one part of the Island, whereas the British had settlements on the other part, and actually in terms the Treaty of Utrecht does contain a cession of Newfoundland to Britain. There was, your Lordship will remember, in the actual British Museum book another passage not printed here, which seemed to some of us to be material. It is only another illustration of the same thing. I may remind your Lordship of it. He says when he deals with Greenland, for example, that the western coast of Greenland is called " New Greenland," and I remember I pointed out to your Lordships that looking at his map one saw what he labelled New Greenland. He is obviously using the word "Coast " there in my sense. And other illustrations could also be given.
It is enough for me to say now I have gone through in my atlas the maps which preceded the making of the new areas, whatever those areas were, in 1763.

Viscount FINLAY : With regard to line 8, on page 3777, what do you understand to be the " great Bay " that is referred to in the

p. 827

sentence : " A la Cote Orientale de ce Pays, on trouve la grande Baie des Esquimaux ? "

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is Hamilton Inlet, which is also called Esquimaux Bay, and sometimes Ivertoke Bay.

Viscount FINLAY : It says " granted to the inhabitants of Quebec by the Governor of Canada."

Sir JOHN SIMON : Of course, your Lordship appreciates this is in the time of the French regime, before Wolfe's victory. Indeed, it was the fact that you had French Canadians who had, as they thought, certain rights in that corner of the world, that added so much to the complications of Governor Palliser's administration.

Lord WARRINGTON : Now we find a further name for Hamilton Inlet, because it goes on to say : " Le sieur Joliet, qui fut envoyé en 1694 par M. de Frontenac, Gouverneur du Canada, pour visiter la Côte de Labrador, la nomma Baie S. Louis."

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is the fourth or fifth name for the same thing. Lord Cave will observe on the following line the word " traite " as meaning " dealings."

Viscount FINLAY : Of course, the Slave trade was always known as " La traite."

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is another example. In the same way your Lordship will notice at line 25 the use of the expression " La Côte " again, which quite plainly means the whole band, as it describes it as being watered by rivers. " La Côte " means there the whole band of country. That kind of thing could be gone into in more detail, but I have now been through every map in my atlas down to the time of the critical documents. It may be said there are some more maps, though I think I may say of them that they are so very ancient that they do not help at all. One of them looks to me as if very likely it was the map which Shakespeare undoubtedly had seen when he described a famous character's appearance as like the new map of the Indies—it is drawn all over with lines. The principal addition is the map on the screen—which is Mitchell's map. So that you have this situation. If you were to imagine the English authorities as examining the most authoritative English map . they would see upon it an indication quite clear that the boundaries of the Hudson's Bay Company were boundaries to be traced along a watershed, and indeed the further assertion that that merely illustrated the Treaty of Utrecht which had said that the French were t3 withdraw behind the boundaries of the Bay of Hudson. If, on the other hand, you were to regard yourself as examining the most authoritative

p. 828

maps on the French side in exactly the same year, at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, you would find that the most authoritative map was the map of Bellin, Map No. 12. And if you went further and were disposed to consult the latest and most authoritative treatise on the geography of this part of the world you would have read the "Remarques " of Bellin, and you would have found he used the word "Coasts " over and over again with the definite annotation, meaning " the slope of land down from a watershed." The question is whether in those circumstances I have not shown on the maps that it is completely wrong to suggest that a reference to " watershed " in reference to the area of Hudson's Bay is a nineteenth century invention which, as Mr. Geoffrion says, nobody dreamed of until President Monroe put it into somebody's head. So much for the maps.

Viscount HALDANE : Would you tell me before you pass from the maps, what is that cluster of lines in the left-hand corner of Labrador ? I am looking at Map No. 12. What does that stand for ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Does your Lordship mean under the word " Nouvelle " in "Nouvelle Bretagne " ?

Viscount HALDANE : Yes.

Sir JOHN SIMON : That is intended to indicate first a certain number of lakes, the names of which are given, as, for instance, the " Lac du Loup Marin," which I think is marked " inconnu." Secondly, it is designed to indicate a space enclosed between the series of lakes, by rivers and the like ; and thirdly it is supposed to indicate that in that part of the area the mountains reach a considerable height. In that respect it is right. You will notice there is a curious irregular outline which is intended to be a lake. I suppose my friend, Mr. Macmillan, would say it had a maritime flavour, because it is called " Le Lac du Loup Marin." The Lake below that is " Le Lac de la Loutre," which would be the Lake of the Otter.

Lord WARRINGTON : There is a note under that, which says : " The whole of this country is filled with lakes and rivers. The detail is not too well known."

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, that is the answer to my Lord Haldane. That is the actual inscription upon it, which my Lord Warrington has just been able to read. " All this part is filled with lakes and with rivers, of which the detail is not too well known."

Viscount HALDANE : I think that explains it.

Viscount FINLAY : I think that is borne out by the map.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes. Considering he was a geographer, he
p. 829

was giving nothing away. So much for the maps. I am sorry to have had to trouble your Lordships so much with them.


Now I want to take the supplementary matter on the same head, namely the documents. I think it is a complete mistake to suppose that the Hudson's Bay Company failed to put forward this contention, or that it was not recognised as their contention, and that it has remained in dubio. It has remained in dubio only in this sense. There has never been an actual judicial interpretation of their claim to any extent. I will show your Lordships now that as a matter of fact it has not only been put forward again and again by the Hudson's Bay Company—and, of course, as we know, has been the advice given both to them and to the British Government—but that the British Government inquired whether the persons who challenged it had the smallest intention of challenging it effectively, found that they did not, and wrote a document which they addressed to the Hudson's Bay Company in which they said, " that being so, the British Government accepts this as the area." That is the reason why in 1857 you do not find anything about it.

Viscount FINLAY : That is the letter you referred to some time ago ?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am coming to it eventually. Now may I give your Lordships one or two references. Will your Lordships take Volume VIII and look at page 4054. You will see there one of the documents which I referred to before, in which in anticipation of the triumphant Treaty of Utrecht the Hudson's Bay Company were putting their claims so high as to push to Grimmington Island, which they were not entitled to do. At line 18, they asked "that a line be supposed to pass," and so on, and "that the French shall not come or any others employed by them, to the north or northwestward of the Land Lake or supposed Line by land or water, on or through any rivers, lakes, or settle on any river leading towards or into the Bay of Hudsons to trade or erect any forts or settlements whatsoever, and the English on the contrary not to pass the said supposed Line either to the southward or eastward."
I have conceded from the very beginning that the Hudson's Bay Company at that stage took advantage of their opportunity to put forward an exaggerated line, but even then they were insisting upon the main principle that there should not be any invasion of the area which was drained by any river leading into Hudson's Bay. In the same way on the French side, if your Lordships will take this reference, the Intendant, as he was called, the French Governor of Quebec, Intendant Hocquart, in 1733 was treating the French area, the King's Posts, as running back on the south side to the watershed. You will find that in Volume VII, page 3205. Volume VII is the volume which I think has been least quarried in the course of the argument, but I will resist the temptation, though there is a great deal in it which I think is interesting. The document I refer to begins at page 3202, and it is the Ordinance issued by Intendant Hoc quart, who is the French

p. 830

Governor of Quebec. You will see that this is in 1733, at a time when the French Empire in Canada was flourishing, on the limits of the Traite de Tadoussac. I am not saying that there are not indications in some places that he was disposed to proclaim the boundaries of this French trading area to a point which would have infringed or impinged upon the Hudson's Bay area. That, of course, was natural, because these were competing Sovereigns, and each of them granted as much as ever he thought would sound plausible without any regard to the claims of people of another nation—just as the King of Spain or the King of Portugal would cheerfully appropriate the whole of the New world. But still it is striking that even at the time when the French were in strongest power on the St. Lawrence, Intendant Hocquart is really still treating the watershed as being the boundary up to which these operations are likely to go. For example, you will see on page 3205, he says at line 32—taking the translation—" We have ordered that, at the suit of Sieur Cugnet, an exact map of the extent of the said Domaine shall be prepared ; on which map shall be shown the banks of the river St. Lawrence from the lower part of Isle aux Coudres to and including the river Moisy and, in the hinterland of the said tract of country, the rivers and lakes which discharge into the Saguenay river, with their magnetic bearings, the extent of the country traversed by them, from their sources to their mouths "— those are all rivers coming down in the end to the St. Lawrence —"and the names of the principal posts where trading is or can be carried on with the Indians. To which end, we have, under the said ordinance, commissioned Sieur Louis Aubert de la Chenaye to survey and traverse the banks of the river Saint Lawrence, comprised in the extent of the said domain of His Majesty, from the lower part of Isle aux Coudres to and including the river Moisy, as well as the Saguenay river, and the rivers and lakes which discharge into it." So far as there was any international understanding about these things, it is not unreasonable to see on the French side that in the same way that was treated as the position, because this is long after the Hudson's Bay charter had been granted by Charles II. At the bottom of page 3208 you will get the formal definition of the "Traite de Tadoussac " by this French authority.

Viscount FINLAY : But " La Traite de Tadoussac " means the trading area ; it does not mean the territory.

Sir JOHN SIMON : No, my Lord, it does not. The French system, as your Lordship knows, was this. In the days of the French Empire in Canada, the French system was to grant a monopoly of trade to, it might be, an individual or a company, and then indicate the area within which that monopoly would be enjoyed. One of the most famous of them was the "Traite de Tadoussac" based no doubt on Tadoussac in the River St. Lawrence.

Viscount FINLAY : That was their trading area.

[1927lab]




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