J. H. GLOVER TO THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY.
18 December 1880.
I have the honour to forward, for Your Lordship's information, a copy of a letter addressed to me by the Naval Commander in Chief of this station in connection with the visit of H.M.S. "Flamingo" to Hamilton Inlet, Labrador, during the recent fishery season, and calling my attention to an opinion expressed by Commander Hall, R.N., that, as numerous disputes respecting land or water rights may arise in that district, he (Commander Hall) submits it is desirable that early next year a member of the Supreme Court, or other person invested with the necessary authority to settle land and fishery disputes should visit Hamilton Inlet.
2. I also enclose a copy of my letter to the Commander in Chief in reply, together with copies of various documents relating to this subject.
3. I would observe that up to this moment neither myself nor my Government have received any information in regard to disputed rights of land or fishery on the Coast of Labrador which would necessitate the holding of the Supreme Court in that portion of my Government and the Collector of Customs, who visited the district referred to in the Revenue Cruiser in the course of last summer, and who remained at Rigolet from the 5th to the 18th of August, reports that the only dispute brought to his notice was between one Rich and a man named Flowers, who were fishing the Jordan Brook. Flowers had a fleet of three salmon nets, Rich had two, and the latter lifted Flowers third net as being set contrary to custom.
4. The Collector of Customs further states that Mr. Fortescue, Justice of the Peace at Rigolet, made no observations to him in regard to any disputes or disturbances in Hamilton Inlet, and the Honourable Stephen Rendell, the Agent for Messrs. Job Brothers in St. John's when handing to my Private Secretary the original letters he had received from Mr. Fortescue (see enclosure No. 4) remarked that he did not consider the question as mooted by Mr. Fortescue in these letters as of sufficient importance, to trouble either the Governor or the Government with it,
5. The question of an exclusive right to a sea fishery, as put forward by Mr. Fortescue, is contrary to the law of Newfoundland, and the statement that a case of this nature was decided by the Supreme Court in 1874, is incorrect, inasmuch as the Attorney General in his letter to me on this subject (see enclosure No. 3.) states that he is unable to discover, nor does he believe, that any claim to an exclusive right of fishery in Jordan's Tickle has ever been preferred in the Supreme Court.
6. The Coast Fishery Act, Cap. 102, of the Consolidated Statutes of 1872, amended in Act 38 Vic. Cap VII, recognises no exclusive or private rights of fishery, but provides only as to distance between nets. (See section 10 of the Consolidated Statutes.)
7. It would appear that the letters from Mr. Fortescue to the Hon. S. Rendell, previously referred to (see enclosure No. 4) were given by the latter gentleman to the Paymaster of H.M.S. "Druid" and through that Officer reached Capt. Kennedy, R.N., who subsequently called upon me, and after reading certain extracts from them, stated that he was prepared to send a ship to Hamilton Inlet to put things right.
8. I am at a loss to conceive why the whole of the information obtained by Captain Kennedy through his Paymaster was withheld when it was unreservedly given to me some time afterwards by Mr. Rendell, or why Captain Kennedy should be desirous of interfering in a matter upon which I had previously expressed an opinion, without being desired to do so by me at the request of my Goverment.
9. I at once placed before my Council such information as Captain Kennedy could be induced to give me, and with a view to minimise any injury or injustice that might arise through the hasty action of any (Officer) Official sent to Hamilton Inlet, a minute (see enclosure No. 5) was framed pointing out that no Justice of the Peace had any authority whatever to interfere between occupants and the claimants of land or water privileges. A copy of this Minute was transmitted to Captain Kennedy with a request (see enclosure No. 6) that, in the event of his sending a ship to Labrador, it might be notified to the Officer Commanding for his guidance, and also to Mr. Fortescue J.P. at Rigolet.
10. My Government called upon Mr. Fortescue for an explanation of the statements put forward by him in his letters to Mr. Rendell, and I now enclose a copy of this correspondence. (See enclosure No. 7.)
11. The Opinion relative to rights of fishery referred to by Mr. Fortescue as having been expressed by me, was not contrary to the Colonial Statutes to which neither Capt. Kennedy nor Commander Hall appear to have given any of their attention, and these officers would seem to have confined themselves to the statements of Mr. Fortescue the Agent of the Hudson's Bay Company. who was naturally interested in obtaining the exclusive right to a fishery that he was about to purchase on behalf of the Company which he represents,
12. If however any expression of action of mine, supported by a Minute of my Executive Council, shall have prevented the perpetration of a grave wrong against ignorant and struggling fishermen, and that the free use of an open run of the sea between Jordan Island and the mainland, shall have been secured for the enjoyment of rich and poor alike, subject only to the proviso laid down in Cap. 102, section 10 of the Consolidated Statutes, I may be well content to pass without further comment the injudicious attempt on the part of the Officer Commanding the fishery squadron to support, at the expense of poor fishermen, a large and influential Company in their endeavour to obtain the exclusive right to a fishery within my jurisdiction, and common to all.
I have &c.,
(sd.) J. H. GLOVER.
The Right Honourable
The Earl of Kimberley.