EXTRACT FROM “THE OREGON QUESTION EXAMINED.” BY TRAVERS TWISS.
The object of the tenth article of the Treaty of Utrecht was to secure to the Hudson's Bay Company the restoration of the forts and other possessions of which they had been deprived at various times by French expeditions from Canada, and of which some had been yielded to France by the seventh article of the Treaty of Ryswick. By this latter treaty Louis XIV. had at last recognised William III. as King of Great Britain and Ireland, and William in return had consented that the principle of uti possidetis should be the basis of the negotiations between the two crowns. By the tenth article, however, of the Treaty of Utrecht, the French King agreed to restore to the Queen (Anne) of Great Britain “to be possessed in full right for ever, the Bay and Straits of Hudson, together with all lands, seas, sea coasts, rivers and places situate [sic] in the said bay and straits, and which belong thereto, no tract of land or sea being excepted, which are at present possessed by the subjects of France.” The only question therefore for commissaries to settle, were the limits of the Bay and Straits of Hudson, coastwards, on the side of the French province of Canada, as all the country drained by streams entering into the Bay and Straits of Hudson were by the terms of the treaty recognised to be part of the possessions of Great Britain.
If the coast boundary, therefore, was once understood by the parties, the head waters of the streams that empty themselves in the Bay and Straits of Hudson, indicate the line which at once satisfied the other conditions of the treaty. Such a line, if commenced at the eastern extremity of the Straits of Hudson, would have swept along, through the sources of the streams flowing into the Lake Mistassinnie and Abbitibis, the Rainy Lake, in 48° 30', which empties itself by the Rainy River into the Lake of the Woods, the Red Lake, and Lake Travers. This last lake would have been the extreme southern limit, in about 40° 50', whence the line would have wound upward to the north-west, pursuing a serpentine course, and resting with its extremity upon the Rocky Mountains at the southernmost source of the Saskatchawan River, in about the 48th parallel of latitude. Such would have been the boundary line between the French possessions and the Hudson's Bay district ; and so we find that, in the limits of Canada, assigned by the Marquis de Vaudreuil himself, when he surrendered the province to Sir J. Amherst, the Red Lake is the apex of the province of Canada, or the point of departure from
which, on the one side, the line is drawn to Lake Superior ; on the other “follows a serpentine course southward to the river Oubache, or Wabash, and along it to the junction with the Ohio.” This fact was insisted upon by the British Government in their answer to the ultimatum of France, sent in on the 1st September, 1761 ; and the map, which was presented on that occasion by Mr. Stanley, the British minister, embodying those limits, was assented to in the French Memorial of the 9th of September. (Historical Memorial of the Negotiations of France and England from March 26th to Sept. 20th, 1761. Published at Paris by authority.) By the fourth article, however, of the Treaty of Paris 1763, Canada was ceded in full, with its dependencies, including the Illinois ; and the future line of demarcation between the territories of their Britannic and Christian Majesties, on the Continent of America was, by the seventh article, irrevocably fixed to be drawn through the middle of the River Mississippi, from its source to the river Iberville, and thence along the middle of the latter river and the Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the sea. Thenceforward the French territory in North America was confined to the western bank of the Mississippi, and this was the Louisiana which was ceded by France to Spain in 1769, by virtue of the treaty secretly concluded in 1762, but not promulgated till 1765. There would have been no mistake as to the boundaries of Louisiana, Canada, and the Hudson's Bay territories, as long as they were defined to be the aggregate of the valleys watered by the rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Bay of Hudson respectively. The difficulty in executing the provisions of boundary treaties in America, has arisen chiefly from adopting the data which incorrect maps have furnished, to which there has been nothing in nature corresponding, and from agreeing to contain parallels of latitude, as appearing from those maps to form good natural frontiers, but which have been found upon actual survey to frustrate the intentions of both parties.
By the Treaty of Utrecht, the British possessions to the north-west of Canada were acknowledged to extend to the head-waters of the rivers emptying themselves into the Bay of Hudson : by the Treaty of Paris, they were united to the British possessions on the Atlantic by the cession of Canada and all her dependencies ; and France contracted her dominions within the right bank of the Mississippi. That France did not retain any territory after this treaty to the north-west of the sources of the Mississippi, will be obvious, when it is kept in mind that the sources of the Mississippi are in 47° 35', whilst the sources of the Red River, which flows through Lake Winnipeg, and ultimately finds its way by the Nelson River in the Bay of Hudson, are in Lake Travers, in about 45° 40'.