p. 1075 JOINT
ORDER OF HIS MAJESTY IN COUNCIL
FOR PREPARATION OF AN INSTRUMENT FOR RE-ANNEXING TO THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC SUCH PARTS OF COAST OF LABRADOR AS ARE SITUATE BETWEEN RIVER ST. JOHN AND BAY PHILLIPEAUX, ETC.
P.C. 2. VOL. 117, p. 181.
[Extracted from Privy Council Minutes of 22 April, 1773.]
Whereas there was this Day read at the Board, a Report from the Right Honourable the Lords of the Committee of Council for Plantation Affairs, dated the 7th of this Instant in the Words following Vizt.
Your Majesty having been pleased by Your Order in Council of the 8th of July 1772 to referr unto this Committee a Representation of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, dated the 24th of June 1772, Setting forth, That they have had under their Consideration a Paper Communicated to them by the Merchants of Great Britain interested in the Trade of Quebec, intitled, The Case of the Landholders in Canada, Proprietors of Seal Fisheries on the Coast of Labrador and their Lessees; as also of the possessors of certain Seal Fisheries on that Coast under Grants from the Governor of Quebec, describing the particular nature and Circumstances of those Fisheries, and Stating the great Loss and Detriment which have ensued, by those fisheries being made Subject to such Rules and Regulations, as the Governor of Newfoundland has thought necessary to be laid down for the Fisheries of Cod and Whale, since the said Coast of Labrador has been annexed to that Government, That they have likewise taken into their Consideration a Memorial presented to Guy Carleton Esquire, Your Majesty's Governor of Quebec, and signed by Sundry Inhabitants thereof, Subjects of your Majesty, to the like Effect, Whereupon the said Lords Commissioners represent That while Canada remained in the Hands of the French, and the Coast of Labrador was considered as a dependency thereupon, a Fishery for Seals was amongst other objects of National concern, attempted and brought to a Degree of perfection, and the returns from this branch of the Exports of Canada amounted annually to about Ten thousand pounds Sterling; In consequence
of these Attempts, Grants of several Islands in the River and Gulph of St Lawrence and some Tracts on the Main Land, with the exclusive Privilege of Seal Fisheries &ca were made in times past by the Crown of France to certain persons and the rights of Property thereby vested in them have passed as Inheritances, and been Sold and Leased to Tenants at pleasure; Various other Species of Claims have been exhibited as derived from French Tenures, which it is needless now to Enumerate and which have passed by Succession through different Hands; and since the Cession of Canada, these Fisheries have been again taken up, & sundry of your Majesty's Subjects have
Possessed themselves of Posts and Settlements, either in virtue of Leases from proprietors under French Titles, or by Grants from your Majesty's Governor of Quebec for a Term certain, or until such time as your Majesty's pleasure should be known; In Confidence of the validity of these Tenures, it is stated that many Adventurers have followed the Established practice of Canada by Purchasing from the former Grantees the whole of their Dwelling Houses, Fishing Implements, Utensils and Warehouses, appropriated to particular Posts or passes, and large Sums are said to have been employed in re-establishing these fisheries;—That the Fishery for Seals it is asserted, cannot be prosecuted in the Open Seas, and made general like those for Cod and Whales, but is practised in a manner widely different from any other fishery in the Gulph or River St Lawrence, and requires much judgment and circumspection, it is chiefly formed by the contiguity of small Islands or Rocks to the main Land, which Occasion Strong Currents called Passes, where only such fisheries can be exercised and to which the make and Contexture of the Nets must be particularly fitted; it is chiefly followed in the winter Season, and the immediate Operation of Catching these Animals commences in December and lasts only about fifteen Days; but the fishers employed in the Business must be at their Station in the course of the Month of September, and cannot get away from it before the end of May. That this is in brief the nature of the fishery for Seals, and these the Circumstances of the People engaged in that Business, that by your Majesty's Royal Proclamation of the 7th of Octr 1763 Your Majesty thought fit to put all the Coast of Labrador from the River St John's to Hudsons Straits together with the Islands of Anticosti and Madelaine, and all other smaller Islands lying upon the said Coast, under the Care and Inspection of your Governor of Newfoundland, to the End as your Majesty therein graciously declares, that the open and free fishery of Your Majesty's Subjects might be extended to, and carried on upon the said Coast of Labrador and the adjacent Islands, and from this period the Posts and Settlements on the above Coast and fisheries thereupon depending were detached from the Government of Quebec, and became Subject to the Ordinances and Regulations of Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland. That from the foregoing Account of the nature and Circumstances of these Posts and the fisheries depending thereon it will, as the said Lords Commissioners conceive, appear, that to Subject them to the same Rules & Regulations, as may be well adapted to the ffisheries for Cod and Whales, is in effect to destroy them; That the Seal Fishery being of necessity a sedentary fishery, requiring great Expence, Nets of a particular quality and Construction, immediately fitted to the pass they belong to, employing materials of a bulky nature, and requiring Houses for wintering the fishers, cannot be made open and general in the manner of fisheries above mentioned; nor can the Posts Occupied by Adventurers in the Business be quitted at pleasure, or Transferred to first Comers, as is practised in the Newfoundland fishery; and accordingly they find not only from the papers under present Consideration but from various other Documents in the Plantation Office, that many and great Complaints have been preferred against the Rules and Regulations, which have been extended
to this Coast, since it has been annexed to the Government of Newfoundland; and which Rules being calculated with a view to encourage the two great fisheries for Cod and Whales, and contrived to Quicken the Activity and emulation of Adventurers of Great Britain, by laying the several Posts and Passes open to the first Arrivers, have been found absolutely incompatible with the principles on which the Seal fishery can alone be conducted; to prevent therefore any further disturbance to Individuals in their private Claims and Possessions and to save the Mother Country the Advantages to be drawn from this branch of Commerce; which seems to be no inconsiderable Object; The said Lords Commissioners Submit whether it may not be adviseable for your Majesty to cause to be reannexed to Your Government of Quebec such parts of the said Coast of Labrador, as are situated between the River St John's and the Straits of Bellisle, together with the Islands of Anticosti and Madelaine, and all other smaller Islands lying upon the said Coasts; for altho' your Majesty, from such information as was before your Majesty, when the proclamation of the 7th of October 1763 was published, did, upon the gracious motives therein Set forth, and with the Advice of Your Privy Council, think fit to put that part of the Coast of Labrador under the Care and Inspection of Your Governor of Newfoundland; Yet the experience of succeeding times, and the various inconveniences, which have since Occurred, and which could not at that period be foreseen, have, as the said Lords Commissioners conceive, reversed the policy of that Measure, and made it for Your Majesty's Service and the welfare of your Subjects to restore the said Coast, as far as the Streights of Bellisle, to it's dependency on the Government of Quebec, leaving for the present at least that part of the Coast of Labrador, which lies between the Straits of Bellisle & Hudson's Streights, and where there are very valuable Cod fisheries, under the Government of Newfoundland;—The Lords of the Committee in Obedience to your Majesty's said Order of Reference, did on the 19th of December 1772, take the said Representation into Consideration, and thought proper to referr the same back to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, to conferr with Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland, on the Subject of the said Seal Fisheries carried on upon the Coast of Labrador, and Report their Opinion to this Committee, how far the Seal Fisheries on the said Coast, may be relieved from the great loss and detriment, which are represented to have ensued by those (fisheries being made Subject to such Rules and Regulations as the Governor of Newfoundland has thought fit to be laid down for the Fisheries of Cod and whale, since the said Coast of Labrador has been annexed to that Government, without prejudice to those Considerations of Policy which induced your Majesty by Your Royal Proclamation of 7th October 1763 to put all the Coast of Labrador from the River St John's so Hudson's Streights together with the Islands of Anticosti & Madelaine and all other smaller Islands lying upon the said Coast under the Care and Inspection of the Governor of Newfoundland Whereupon the said Lords Commissioners have reported to this Committee, That they have in pursuance of the said Order re-considered the proposition made for re-annexing to the Colony of Quebec such part of the Coast of Labrador, as lies between the River St John and the Streights of Bellisle,
with the Islands thereunto belonging, and having conversed with your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland on the Subject of the Seal Fishery carried on upon the said Coast of Labrador the said Lords Commissioners are clearly of Opinion that the Regulations, which have been made for the encouragement of the Fisheries for Cod and Whales, are in their present State incompatible with that permanent residence and continued possession, which are essential to the Seal and Salmon Fisheries and that those fisheries cannot be relieved from the loss and detriment, which the proprietors of the different posts upon that Coast complain of, whilst the Regulations above mentioned are continued in force; It was not however upon this Ground altogether that they recommended the annexing to Quebec, that part of the Coast described in the Representation above mentioned; for, when it appeared upon examination, that a great part of it was claimed as private property under Grants from the Government of Canada, and that your Majesty was bound by Treaty to admit those Claims, the Consideration of policy was out of the Question; And Your Majesty could not as they conceive, in Justice, warrant the enforcing any Regulations which both in their Nature and principle were Subversive of those Rights;—That those Claims do not appear upon further examination to comprehend all the Coast between the River St John and the Streights of Bellisle, and that they extend no further than the Ance des Espagnols or Bay Philippeaux; whatever therefore lies to the Eastward of that Limit may very properly continue within the Government of Newfoundland, & the disadvantage in point of fishery, of re-annexing the remainder to the Government of Quebec (if any) will be the less, as by far the greater part of it is Rocky and inaccessible, and therefore can be of no use to the Cod Fishery;—The Lords of the Committee upon mature Consideration of this matter, do humbly report to your Majesty, that they concurr in Opinion with what is proposed by the said Lords Commissrs for Trade and Plantations, and to that End, do agree humbly to advise your Majesty to direct your Attorney and Sollicitor General, to prepare and lay before your Majesty in Council a Draught of an Instrument proper to be passed under the Great Seal of Great Britain, for re-annexing to the Government of Quebec, such parts of the said Coast of Labrador as are situated between the River St John and the Ance des Espagnols or Bay Philippeaux, together with the Islands of Anticosti and Madelaine, and all other smaller Islands upon the said Coast.
[The above Report is extracted from Minutes of the 7th April 1773.]
His Majesty taking the said Report into Consideration, was pleased with the Advice of His Privy Council, to approve thereof, and to Order as it is hereby Ordered, that His Majesty's Attorney and Sollicitor General, do prepare and lay before His Majesty at this Board a Draught of an Instrument proper to be passed under the Great Seal of Great Britain, for re-annexing to the Government of Quebec such Parts of the said Coast of Labrador as are situated betn the River St John and the Ance des Espagnols or Bay Phillippeaux, together with the Islands of Anticosti and Madelaine, and all other smaller Islands upon the said Coast.