No. 678. N
AFFIDAVIT OF E. G. GRANT.
In the Privy Council.
IN THE MATTER of the BOUNDARY between the DOMINION of CANADA and the COLONY of NEWFOUNDLAND in the LABRADOR PENINSULA
I, EDWIN GEORGE GRANT, of Trinity, Newfoundland, agent for Messrs. Job Bros. & Company at Blanc Sablon, Labrador, and former member of the Newfoundland House of Assembly for Trinity District, make oath and say as follows:
1. I am a native of Trinity, born there in 1865. I have been connected since boyhood with the Labrador fishery, and for the past 41 years have been at Blanc Sablon for Messrs. Job Bros. & Co., of St. John's, who have been fishery operators on a large scale in Newfoundland for over 100 years, and in Labrador for over 50 years. For 16 years I was assistant to the late Hon. Capt. Samuel Blandford, who was for a long period in charge of the business for Messrs. Job Bros. on the Labrador side of Belle Isle Strait. Since 1901 I have been manager there and have 11 establishments under my direction.
2. I have read very carefully the Report of Sir William McGregor to Sir Robert Bond, respecting the boundary at Blanc Sablon, which is annexed to this affidavit and marked “A”; * and the map annexed to this affidavit and marked “B” has been prepared under my supervision as approxi-
* Exhibit “A” is not printed, since it does not refer to Relief of Distress, and the same letter is exhibited to the affidavit of John Butt, Part VIII—L. No.
Exhibit “B” will be found in the Newfoundland Atlas as No. 52.
mately similar to that of Governor McGregor, which I am informed cannot be found.
3. I was at Blanc Sablon when he visited that place in 1906, and much of the information contained in his Report was given to him by me. The Report correctly describes the Boundary situation there.
All of those, except myself, whom he names in the Report—Captain Blandford, Mr. Morel, and Mr. Parsons, as well as himself—have died in the intervening period and I am, so far as I know, the only person living who is familiar with the collection of revenue at that time.
4. Blanc Sablon is the headquarters of Messrs. Job's business in Labrador and is also the boundary line between Canada and Newfoundland territory. The Newfoundlanders now recognize as the dividing line the river that runs
into Blanc Sablon; but the Canadians regard as the boundary the Cape or projecting point known as “Lazy Point,” the western extremity of the bay. Canadian officials do not exercise any authority east of that point, and as Newfoundland has not exercised authority west of the River for some twenty years, there is about half a mile of seaboard between, which we have called for these twenty years “No Man's Land.”
5. About that time owing to friction between Newfoundland and the United States, Newfoundland denied American fishermen trading facilities in her waters. The late Benjamin Parsons, who was then Newfoundland Collector of Customs at Blanc Sablon, held that the river was the boundary, but prior to that Newfoundland always claimed authority as far as Lazy Point, for I remember that about thirty years ago, Captain Blais, a French-Canadian trader, who sold some brandy to a Halifax skipper in Blanc Sablon Bay, was prosecuted by the Newfoundland Authorities and fined $400.
As Governor MacGregor states, the curious distinction was made prior to the time of the friction with the Americans, that the Frewing Company paid duties on all the goods which it imported for sale to the people in Blanc Sablon, or to those who came there from other places to trade, but did not pay duty on the articles which it brought in for consumption in its own establishment west of the River.
I think Governor MacGregor made a slight error with reference to Point au Peau. The whole of the area from Blanc Sablon River, west to Lazy Point, has been known to us for the past twenty years as “No Man's Land.” The Canadians never claimed east of Lazy Point. I consider that the line drawn by Governor MacGregor, if intended to show the extent of Newfoundland's marine jurisdiction, ought to be drawn from Woody Island to Lazy Point, instead of from Woody Island to Point au Peau. The reason for his having drawn it from Woody Island to Point au Peau is, I think, that the marine area east of that line is regarded as the bay or harbor of Blanc Sablon; and the passage or channel west of that line is regarded as only an entrance to the harbor.
6. Our firm has establishments east and west of the boundary. We work cod fishing traps just west of Lazy Point and are required by the Canadian authorities to pay the usual license fees, which their own people have to pay, but east of that point we work other traps and are not obliged to pay any fees. At Bradore, six miles west of Lazy Point, we also have a place, and two stations on Greenly Island, which lies between; and on all three we have to pay trap licenses to the Canadian authorities.
Until about four years ago a Canadian Revenue Cruiser visited the coast every summer, first under Commander Wakeham, and later under Commander Bernier, both medical men, who rendered services in that capacity as well as collected revenue, until recent years, when the Canadian Government appointed a resident Customs officer who was first located at Bradore and later at Bonne Esperance. Neither Wakeham nor Bernier asserted any authority east of Lazy Point, though sometimes the Cruiser entered Blanc Sablon on a friendly visit. The resident Customs Office at Bonne Esperance, from time to time, visits Greenly Island and collects duty on anything our firm imports there, but he, too, has never claimed authority east of Lazy Point; in fact, he states clearly that his jurisdiction ends there. Fishery Wardens have also been appointed for different sections of the Canadian territory, west of Blanc Sablon, but the one at Bradore, whose jurisdiction extends to Canada's eastern boundary, disclaims any authority east of Lazy Point.
7. In my opinion, the Newfoundland settlers on this part of Labrador are better looked after by their Government than are the Canadian residents by theirs. I think this is partly because the connection between the Newfoundland Government and the fishermen is much closer than between the Canadian Government and its fishermen. The Newfoundland Government understands better the needs of its people and acts more promptly, as the fishing industry is all-important to Newfoundland, but it is a smaller industry in Canada and the Government there is not so concerned. On the Newfoundland territory—that is east of the boundary line—we have had for nearly thirty years a regular weekly mail service all summer, first by the steamer Fife and since by the steamer Home, of 450 tons, which calls at all the harbours in the Belle Isle Strait, brings and takes mail, and gives a direct and satisfactory freight service. On the Canadian side, on the contrary, they had until three years ago only a small twenty-foot open boat, driven by a motor engine, running along the coast between Blanc Sablon and Harrington, 160 miles west, with a fortnightly mail and one only, or at most two, passengers could be carried, these being exposed to every sort of weather. Since then a steamer makes fortnightly trips between Quebec and Bradore during the summer months carrying passengers, mails and freight.
For much of their food the people on Canadian Labrador have to depend on Captain Blais of Quebec, who visited the coast in a schooner twice a year, until three years ago, thus affording the only means for most of them to get in
supplies or to ship anything outward. Now he brings in and sends out everything by the mail steamer which plies along the coast each summer,
and very autumn latterly a special steamer has been sent from Quebec just before navigation closes with winter supplies to the settlers, and in the fall of 1922 another special steamer was sent with relief because the fishery was so poor that the residents were in dire need.
8. Canadian people from Blanc Sablon to Bradore depend on our firm for fishery supplies, salt for curing their fish, and vessels to take away the catch, and west of Bradore they depend upon Whiteleys at Bonne Esperance, another Newfoundland firm, in the same way.
9. In the matter of schools these are provided on the Newfoundland side, but on the Canadian side, apart from Long Point, where there is a Roman Catholic settlement, priest and a regular school, the facilities are very
meagre and teachers in the places that have schools have to be got from Newfoundland, because the Canadians cannot get any of their own people to go to the coast as teachers.
10. In hospital accommodation the Newfoundlanders are also much better off. There is a cottage hospital at Forteau, a large one at Battle Harbor, 80 miles east of us, another large one at Indian Harbor, halfway up
the Atlantic Coast, and a small one at Northwest River at the head of Hamilton Inlet. But on Canadian Labrador there was only one, that at Harrington, 160 miles west of Blanc Sablon, but this, after being in operation some 10 or 15 years, was shut down for some time because no help could be got from the Canadian Government; but was reopened about three years ago, having I understand, secured a small grant from the Canadian Government. The only other medical service that Canadian Labrador got was that furnished by the medical officer in command of the revenue cruiser. On the other hand, the Newfoundland Government keeps a doctor on the mail steamer that makes fortnightly trips along the east coast of Labrador all the summer. Dr. Grenfell also cruises along the coast during the same period in his hospital ship. His hospitals at Forteau and at Northwest River are kept open all the year round, and those at Battle Harbor, Indian Harbor, during the summer months while the fishery is in progress. Dr. Grenfell first began his work on Labrador more than thirty years ago, when he opened Battle Harbor hospital, which has been operating ever since; the other hospitals were opened within a few years afterwards.
11. As to relief in time of need, I have found that the Newfoundland Government deals with this very promptly and I think on a more liberal scale than the Canadian authorities. As I have already said, the Newfoundland authorities are in more direct touch with their people than are the Canadian authorities.
Some thirty years ago the Canadian authorities issued notices to the people of Canadian Labrador that they would no longer supply them with relief but offering to remove them from the coast and settle them elsewhere, in pursuance of which policy they did transfer a number of people from the
coast to the Canadian West, but they gradually drifted back again. Twice since then at intervals of some years apart, similar notices were given but they were not acted upon, as the Canadian authorities realized that they could not permit the people to perish of starvation and they had no means of forcing them to leave the coast.
12. As to representation, while it is true the residents of Newfoundland Labrador have no member of Parliament, I think that is also true of Canadian Labrador. Certainly, if there is a member for that area he never visits it and the people never vote. In my forty years at Blanc Sablon I have never heard or known of the residents of Canadian Labrador taking part in any election either Federal or Provincial.
13. I have never known or heard of any claims by Canada to exercise jurisdiction on the coast, east of Lazy Point, or to dispute the right of the Newfoundlanders to go inland as far as they wish; nor have I ever heard any desire expressed by our people to be transferred to Canadian jurisdiction. In my opinion, they are better off under Newfoundland control than they would be under Canadian.
14. The chief occupation of the residents, or livyers, of Blanc Sablon and other settlements on that section of Newfoundland Labrador fronting the Straits of Belle Isle, is fishing, but they are also trappers and engage in “furring” or trapping every fall and winter. For this purpose they go inland from two to three days' journey, counting about 15 miles to a day. Before the lakes and rivers freeze over, they use boats which they keep near cabins or “tilts” built by them at convenient places about a day's journey from each other. In these cabins they spend the nights. Trapping is done mainly in the forest section which stretches northeastward through the interior from Bonne Esperance to Hamilton Inlet. After the frosts set in and the rivers and lakes are frozen over, they make their way along with dog-teams in the same way. Usually they make four or five furring trips into the interior each season at intervals of about a fortnight. Also in the winter they go in again to hunt caribou, usually about the same distance, employing dog-teams and occupying the same cabins; and bring out the meat on the dog-teams. They have also to go inland at many places for firewood. About Blanc Sablon it is now very scarce, and they have to up-root the stumps and roots of old trees and also the small bushes that grow within a few miles of the settlement. They have to go in about six miles to get wood to build wharves of “cribbing.” This wood is too stunted for building boats or houses and they must get lumber for this from Pinware and other rivers along the coast, or from Newfoundland. At places like Red Bay and West St. Modiste they go up the rivers 15 to 20 miles to get firewood and timber to build boats and fishing rooms.
We have always regarded the whole of the country extending inland indefinitely as part of the territory of Newfoundland and if the rights of the Colony were restricted to a strip of seaboard a mile or two deep, it would.