p. 961 JOINT
REPRESENTATION OF THE LORDS OF TRADE TO H.M. THE KING,
REPORTING ON STATE OF THE COAST OF LABRADOR.
C. O. 195. VOL. 9.
To the King's most Excellent Majesty.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY*
* * *
Having thus humbly brought into Your Majesty's View every Fact and Material relative to Newfoundland separately considered, it only remains for us to make some Observations upon what relates to the State of the Coast of Labrador, and the other Territories annexed to this Government after the Conclusion of the last War: and we observe, that in that Part of the Representation made to Your Majesty by our Predecessors on the 29th of April 1765, which relates to the State of these Territories, they proposed to offer to Your Majesty's Consideration this Year such Measures as in their Judgement might be proper to be pursued in respect thereto; And to the End that they might be enabled to do this with the greater certainty and Precision, we find that they did soon after give Instructions to Your Majesty's Governor for the Obtaining and Reporting to them full Information of the State of these Territories in every minute Circumstance of commercial Advantage, that either had been or could be derived from them; but it having unfortunately happened, that the Ships, appointed for the Service of those Coasts and Islands, were gone out before Your Majesty's Governor received these Instructions, so that it was impossible for him to make that compleat Return which they require; we find ourselves deficient in those Lights and that Information which can enable us fully to answer what Appears to have been the Intention of our Predecessors in respect to this Object.
Difficult however as it would be, under this Circumstance of Want of Information, to form any perfect or permanent Plan of Measures to be pursued for Securing to this Kingdom all the Advantages which the Coast of Labrador is capable of producing; yet we trust that Your Majesty will be of Opinion,
[¹ The portions of this representation dealing with the state of Newfoundland will be found in the series of documents relating to the History of Newfoundland, vide p. 1856, et seq.]
that so valuable a part of Your Majesty's newly-acquired Territory should not remain without some commercial Regulations, until from further Information a more perfect Plan can be formed; and for the better enabling Your Majesty to form Your Judgement, as well upon the temporary Regulations which Your Majesty's Governor has thought it necessary to establish in respect to these Territories, as upon what may be thought further Necessary, we humbly beg leave to annex the Reports which he has made to us, since his Return, of the State of Labrador and the Madelaine Islands, and of the Nature and Extent of the Fisheries carried on there.
It appears to be the Opinion of Your Majesty's Governor, that the greatest Object of commercial Benefit to be derived from this Coast is that of a Cod Fishery, more abundant and more advantageous in every Respect than that carried on upon the Coasts of Newfoundland; and that the Seal and Sea-Cow Fishery, which our Predecessors in Office appear in their Representation to Your Majesty to have considered as the principal Object of commercial Regulation in these Territories, neither has been nor ever can be other than a secondary Object of Attention, confined to particular Parts of that Coast, and carried on at a Season when it will not interfere with the other more important Fishery for Cod; for, although it be true, that the French had established several exclusive Posts upon the Coast of Labrador for the purpose of carrying on in the Winter Season a Fishery for Seals and Sea-Cows, and a Traffic with the Savages; yet the Governor represents, that a considerable. Ship Fishery for Cod was carried on upon the Coast of Labrador by Ships fitted out from the Ports of old France.
This appearing to Your Majesty's Governor to be the Plan of Policy adopted by the French and prosecuted with great Success and Advantage, and seeing that it did in the general Principles of it conform to the Policy which had been antiently adopted in respect to the Cod Fishery in Newfoundland, he thought it his Duty to establish those Regulations for the Fishery upon these Coasts, which are before referred to, and which at the same Time that they promised to,secure to this Nation the Benefit of a Ship Fishery for Cod, tend to induce those whom Interest should engage in this Pursuit to avail themselves of every Advantage that could be derived from the Oil Fishery, and from a Traffick with the Savages, leaving to the American Fishers, who appeared to have largely engaged in the Whale Fishery on that Coast, the full Pursuit of that beneficial Object, subject only to such Restrictions and Regulations as were thought necessary to prevent abuses in particular Persons, which had operated to the prejudice of the public Interest in general. These Regulations, Copies of which we humbly lay before Your Majesty, will inform Your Majesty of every Step which has been yet taken with regard to this Part of Your Majesty's Territory; But how far these Regulations are in point of Policy or in any other Respect proper and expedient, must be submitted to Your Majesty's Determination.
The Circumstances, which seem to us to require a separate Attention in the general Consideration of whatever general Plan may be thought necessary for the Coast of Labrador, are—
First—The exclusive Posts established upon this Coast by the French for the purposes of Seal and Sea Cow Fishing, and continued under temporary Leases from the Governor of Quebec.
Secondly—The State of the Malelaine Islands, and
Thirdly—The Mission established on the northern Part of the Labrador Coast the last Year by the Society of the Unitas Fratrum under the Countenance and Protection of Government.
The only Difficulty, which occurs to us in the Consideration of what may be proper to be done in respect to the exclusive Posts on the Coast of Labrador, is the nature of the Tenure under which they are held and claimed; for if, as we apprehend, they depend only upon the temporary Leases granted by the Governor of Quebec, it appears to us, that they ought to be, as they actually have been, set aside by the Regulations established by your Majesty's Governor, which do in our humble Opinion point out a Method, by which this Kingdom may avail itself of the Benefits of an Oil Fishery, without the Continuance of exclusive Possessions in the Hands of Americans, operating as Monopolies and to the Establishment of an illicit Importation of foreign European Manufactures and Productions, to the Prejudice of the Revenue and the Commerce of this Kingdom; but if, on the Contrary, the Tenure of these Posts shall appear to be such as to fall within the Description of that Property, reserved to the Inhabitants of Canada by the Treaty of Paris, it may be a doubt, how far it may be in Your Majesty's Power to abolish them.
With respect to the Madelaine Islands it appears unto us, from the best Information we have been able to receive, that no other use or Advantage either ever has been or can be made of these Islands than for the Establishment of Oil Fishery, which, from the nature of it, as well as from the small Extent and peculiar Situation of these Islands, must be exclusive in some one Person; and therefore Your Majesty may, if you think it advisable, either grant the said Islands in Fee simple or upon Lease for years, on such Terms and Conditions and for such Rent as shall appear to be adequate to the Advantages accompanying a beneficial Grant of this Kind.
It is unnecessary for us to trouble Your Majesty with every Circumstance relative to the Mission of the Society of the Unitas Fratrum; it will be sufficient for us to say, that the Object of it is so commendable in itself, and the Conduct of those, who went out last Year upon this difficult and hazardous Service, appears by the Report of Your Majesty's Governor to have been so meritorious and prudent, that, independent of the public Advantage arising from the Discovery of a Coast hitherto unknown and unexplored, does seem to us to recommend them to Your Majesty's further favour and Protection; and therefore we submit to your Majesty, whether it may not be advisable, that Your Majesty's Governor should be instructed to allow this Society to occupy such a District of Land, not exceeding one hundred thousand Acres, upon the Coast of Labrador, as they shall think best situated for the purpose of their Mission; reserving however to all Your Majesty's Subjects a full
Right of carrying on Fisheries within the said District, and making such Regulations for the Peace and Welfare of the Persons, who shall establish themselves in this District, as shall appear to be reasonable, and necessary, and tending to promote so pious and laudable an Institution.
All which is most humbly submitted.