p. 2585
C


No. 1045.

EXTRACTS FROM REPORT OF AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO LABRADOR BY GOVERNOR OF NEWFOUNDLAND (SIR WILLIAM MACGREGOR), 1908.*

So far as I know, only one Minister of the Crown in Newfoundland has visited Labrador during the many years that this territory has been under the jurisdiction of this Colony ; and the residents there are still without the first and fundamental right of constitutional government, the political franchise. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that some of the Newfoundland regulations are called in question in Labrador both as to validity and suitability ; not can it surprise one that the southern residents express a decided preference for Canada, whence they have to import many articles of food, while they pay Customs' dues on them to Newfoundland and have no representation in the House of Assembly. These difficulties are further magnified by the absence of any resident judge or stipendiary magistrate on Labrador. Last summer a magistrate was about three weeks on the coast and visited a few spots on the southern part of it that were most accessible ; but he was there apparently in connection with fishery protection service only. He never reached the Hamilton Inlet and consequently did not come into contact with any case of importance on the coast, his visits being confined to places that would certainly have been visited very soon after by Dr. Grenfell, on whom as a Justice of the Peace devolves the administration of law and justice on practically the whole Labrador coast, with its 3,000 or 4,000 permanent residents and its summer population exceeding 25,000 people. Put in other words, this means that the functions of Government, except the collection of taxes and the maintenance of some of the lights, are practically left in the hands of a private gentleman over a coast-line that may be said to extend over ten degrees of latitude, a position that is probably unique. That such a form of administration is possible speaks volumes for the peaceful and law-abiding character of the people. During the winter, when Dr. Grenfell is absent from the coast, Labrador does not even possess a Justice of the Peace. . . . Of course many cases, both civil and criminal, occur that are never dealt with, and many men are left in doubt as to what they may or may not legally do.

*Journal of Assembly, Nfld., 1909, App., pp. 318-319.

[1927lab]


 

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