The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume V

      Basis of Remarks,        etc., etc.

      Admiralty       Publications and       Nomenclature—      Hamilton Inlet.

      The use of the       names Hamilton       Inlet and Lake       Melville.

      Hamilton Inlet       (including Lake       Melville) a Sea       Inlet.

      The Narrows and       Navigation.

      Navigation East       side of Henrietta Id..

      Navigation West       of Henrietta Id.

      Choice of Passage       on either side of       Henrietta Id.

      Sea Inlets and       their General       Characteristics.

      Examples of Sea       Inlets.

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No. 1035.



I. Basis of Remarks .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     2523
II. Admiralty Publications and Nomenclature—Hamilton Inlet .    .    . 2523
III. Hamilton Inlet (including Lake Melville as being a Sea Inlet), Navigation of the—Narrows—on East and West side of Henrietta Id.—Choices of Passage on either side of Henrietta Id.    .    .    .    . 2524
IV. Sea Inlets and their General Characteristics .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . 2525
V. Examples of Sea Inlets .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . 2526
VI. Tidal Observations— Slope of the Surface Water in the Narrows of Hamilton Inlet .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     2527
VII. Difference of Slope of the Surface Water in the Narrows, its causes and permanency not established by observations .    .    .    .    .    .     2528
VIII. Necessity for more Prolonged Observations in order to determine the height of Mean Sea Level and the Mean Height of Lake Melville when seeking to establish the existence of a permanent difference between them .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . 2529
IX. Comparison of Surface Slope—River St. Lawrence and the connecting Waterway—Hamilton Inlet .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . 2529
X. The Marine Character of Hamilton Inlet and the inner or L. Melville portion .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . 2530
XI. (a) Diminished Tidal Range both in the connecting Waterway and L. Melville .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
(b) Retardation in the Waterway of the inward progress of the Tidal Wave .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    
(c) The Ebb Stream— its Greater Velocity and Duration in the Waterway .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .


XII. Density and Temperature of the Surface and Sub-Surface Water— Climatic Conditions of Hamilton Inlet including the Lake Melville portion and on the Labrador Coast .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     2531
XIII. Final conclusion and Remarks .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     2531

p. 2523

I. The Materials upon which these Observations are chiefly based are the Dominion Government Chart No. 420 and the Hydrographic Report included in the Documents delivered with the Canadian Case. These Materials do not form so complete or satisfactory a basis for judging the characteristics of the area under discussion as they would have composed if they had included:—

(a) The Chief Hydrographer's Report;
(b) Sailing Directions for the area surveyed, published by the Hydrographic Survey Department Canada.
(See Atlas for enlargement at entrance to Lake Melville taken from Canadian Chart No. 420.)
(c) The Original, Larger Scale and more Detailed Survey of the whole of Lake Melville or portions such as the Narrows, if, as I suppose, such surveys were carried out.

Moreover an expansive sheet of water with deep water throughout and a tidal stream of 5 knots in the Narrows area and extending for 20 miles in length had to be surveyed. Apart from the rigors of the climate, the Labrador season is short and there are no facilities on the spot for the conduct of survey. No Data were available from previous surveys, so that a rigid Triangulation was necessary over the whole area involving the establishment of elevated stations in a trackless and timbered country. Accordingly it is not unlikely that the Time available proved insufficient for a survey in any great detail.

II. The information published by the British Admiralty under the superintendence of the Hydrographer of the Navy appears in Vol II of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pilot 5th Edition 1917 and the Annual Supplement thereto, the last available issue being dated November 1924. The Admiralty Charts include No. 375 Coast sheet published in 1876 under the title “ Sandwich Bay to Nain including Hamilton Inlet ” : so far as Hamilton Inlet is concerned the Chart is based on the Survey by H.M.S. Bulldog in 1860 and incorporates the survey work in the Inlet by H.M.S. Pelter in 1823. Chart No. 375 was first published in 1864 and entitled “ Hamilton Inlet ” : the 1864 Chart shows the Pelter's track from Tub Harbour on the Eastern extremity to Goose Bay at the head of Lake Melville. Charts No. 222 and 1422 though they touch the area in question are less valuable for the present purpose.

It is noteworthy that Chart No. 375 uses the term Hamilton Inlet as covering the whole of Lake Melville. The Eastern or outer portion of Hamilton Inlet extending so far as the Narrows would be properly described as a Sound, but no distinguishing name has hitherto been given to it in Admiralty publications, the description Hamilton Inlet being used as indicated above to

p. 2524

cover the whole Inlet as far as and including Goose Bay. A probable reason why no separate name has been given to the “Sound ” is that it affords no convenient shelter or stopping places for vessels. So far as I am aware the use of the term has not been challenged until the present proceedings. It is true that the term is not so used in the Chart No. 420 included as No. 13 in the Canadian Atlas, but this chart does not clearly identify the actual geographical locality of Lake Melville and places the comparatively well known name Hamilton Inlet without prominence beyond the Narrows in the margin of the Chart. In spite of the materials disclosed in the documents appended to the Canadian Case I still consider that the descriptive Title used for Canadian Chart No. 420 is incorrect and certainly confusing.

III. For practical purposes a useful Test often adopted in determining what is an Inlet of the Sea is whether the waters in question are permanently navigable by ocean-going vessels. Such a Test is specially applicable to cases where, as here, no rivers navigable by such vessels flow into the waters under consideration. It was adopted by the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Limits of Territorial Waters appointed by the British Government in 1922. The many Government Departments concerned were represented on that Committee of which I was Chairman.
Judged by this Test the whole of Hamilton Inlet (including Lake Melville) is undoubtedly an Arm or Inlet of the Sea, for the whole of it is permanently accessible to the largest ocean-going vessels and without supplementary assistance such as tugs (see Atlas for enlargement of entrance to Lake Melville taken from Canadian Chart No. 420).

The Narrows extending between Double Mer and Holme Points for a distance of 6 miles present no difficulty, there is no Tidal Bar or other natural hindrance. The Passages on both sides of Henrietta Island are navigable by large vessels. The navigable width of them is reduced for the most part to less than half a mile, but the water is deep and the coast “ steep-to,” nor are there any hidden dangers anywhere near mid channel.

The Passage E of Henrietta Island is 4 miles long and takes the form of the letter “ S ” with two sharp bends at Holme Point and the East extreme Henrietta Island, each turn amounting approximately to nine points of the compass or 101°. This Passage at its narrowest is 4 cables or 800 yards; its least depth exceeds 20 fathoms.

The West Passage following the Main Channel and passing E of Eskimo Island is 7½ miles long from abreast Holme Point to Lake Melville. It follows the general direction of the Narrows to the South West for 5 miles until half a mile North of Snook Cove then the Main Channel follows the gradually curving shore of Henrietta Island necessitating a steady alteration of course amounting to seven points of the compass or 79°, and passes to the East of Eskimo Island, and from there the channel to Lake Melville is open. From

p. 2525

Strathcona Point at the South end of the Narrows the width of the navigable channel to the South West expands to 1½ miles and rapidly contracts again South of Moliak Cove to 6 cables and to 3 cables (600 yards) abreast Snook Cove a width of 3 cables being maintained till lake Melville is reached. The least depth throughout is 10 fathoms N.E. of Eskimo Island : for the rest the depth varies between 15 & 40 fathoms. Except at Moliak Cove the shores throughout are “ steep-to.” The only hidden danger—to be considered—is the 9 feet rock just North of Eskimo Island and this rock lies well to the Westward of the main track east of the island. The Tidal Streams are given as having a strength of 3½ knots at springs North and West of Eskimo Island and may be assumed in the absence of observations without much risk of error to be of the same strength east of that island. The Canadian Report states that the main body of water flowing to and from the Sound was noticed to pass West of Henrietta Island, following the more direct line : it is probable that here the streams are of the greatest strength as compared with the velocity of the flow passing East of this Island.
There is a Passage to the west of Eskimo Island available for small ships with local knowledge but it offers no advantage over the Main Channel east of the island, though it was the Passage followed by H.M.S. Pelter in 1823.

Both the two main Passages recommended above compare favourably in their navigable features with similar Passages in every day use by large ocean-going vessels elsewhere. The East Passage, though not so direct to the head at Lake Melville and requiring two pronounced but moderate turns would probably be preferred by a stranger, as being wider and shorter than the West Passage which affords advantage to unhandy vessels when meeting passing ships, the one turn here being a gradual one and less in amount.

IV. The length of the Inlet does not make it the less an Arm of the Sea. Long Inlets of two kinds are found elsewhere. Those of the first kind are narrow in width (about 1 to 5 miles), of great depth (exceeding 100 fathoms in many places), preserving a general direction with precipitous elevated shores and branching Arms to their head, where more often an unnavigable river empties from the watershed of the mountain gorges and valleys.

Those of the second kind are found on a broken but generally less elevated coastal region, where the sea coast recedes somewhat, forming a Bay or Sound with a narrow navigable Waterway at its head ; the Waterway, which is in places restricted to less than half a mile in width, seldom exceeds and generally falls short of 20 miles in length and is subject to strong Tidal Streams, gives access to an expansive sheet of water, forming a Basin ; the Basin generally exceeds 100 fathoms in depth, reaches up to a 100 miles in length, contains scattered islands and extends to other expansive Basins with similar Waterways all of which however may not be navigable. The shores throughout Inlets of this second kind are generally moderately elevated

p. 2526

and extend from a more distant mountainous background. Many rivers, usually unnavigable, some of large size with tributaries, debouch around the head of such an Inlet and form the drainage of an extensive watershed. The Inlets of both kinds are themselves generally permanently accessible through-out their full extent to the largest ocean vessels, which may however, in those of the second kind, owing to the presence of Tidal Bars or the strength of Tidal Streams, be restricted in traversing the Waterways to times near High Water or when the Tidal Stream is at moderate strength.

Such Inlets vary greatly in size, and may, with successive Basins which they form, extend for a distance of 150 miles to their navigable head.

V. Hamilton Inlet is an example of this second kind, which is Inlets, less familiar and of less frequent occurrence than the first kind of Inlet mentioned above. Comparison may fairly be made in the present case with Sea Inlets possessing similar characteristics to Hamilton Inlet with a few examples such as:—

BURRARD and MASSET Inlets on the sea coast of British Columbia, BRAS D'OR LAKE (which is enclosed by Cape Breton Island off the Coast of Canada), and those of the south west coast of New Zealand, the west coast of Scotland the coast of Alaska, the Patagonian channels of Chile, the coast of Norway, Mediterranean, China, and Eastern Archipelago.
In particular (see Admiralty Chart 922 in Atlas) BURRARD INLET embraces two large deep water Basins extending for a total distance of 24 miles from the Sound near Atkinson Point to the head of Indian Arm : it is permanently accessible throughout to ocean-going vessels by the first and second Narrows, where Tidal Streams run 6 to 8 knots at Springs with a least depth of 35 feet at Low Water.

MASSET INLET (see Admiralty Chart 3711, Canadian Chart 305 in Atlas) extends from the Sound near Wiah Point for 45 miles at its head and is accessible to ocean-going vessels crossing the Outer Bars, the least depth being 15 feet at Low Water. It traverses Masset Sound (20 miles long) and the mean breadth is half a mile. Tidal Streams run 5½ knots. The name Masset Inlet was first authoritively assigned to this previously imperfectly known large Inlet in 1909, when it was then first delineated by the Canadian Government Survey.
SANDWICH BAY (Admiralty Chart 263) on the Labrador Coast 30 miles South of Hamilton Inlet though smaller than the latter extends 30 miles from its entrance seaward of Huntingdon Island to its head. The ship's Passage permanently accessible to ocean vessels is by the narrow channel eastward of Earl Island where the Tidal Streams are strong, when it expands to the Sandwich Bay basin 15 miles long with a general width of 6 miles and depths up to 60 fathoms.
The dimensions of SKYRING WATER (Admiralty Chart 21) in Chile are 50 miles by 10 miles with depth up to 340 fathoms. Skyring Water is acces-



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