p. 3516

preclude the Crown from setting up the said revocation and abandonment of the grant, or from denying its validity.
The judgment of the Superior Court affirmed the title of the Crown to the larger portion (about 250 miles) of the tract in dispute, leaving the company in possession of the rest. The River Agwanus or Goynish was taken as the dividing line, the Crown recovering all that lies to the east of that river, and the company keeping all that lies to the west.
Both parties appealed from the judgment, and the Court of Queen's Bench dismissed both appeals.
The basis of the company's claim is the alleged grant of the 25th of February, 1661. It is necessary therefore, in the first place, to examine the nature and extent of this grant. In 1627 a company, called the Company of New France (or of the Cent Associés) was formed, to which the King of France conceded the pays de la Nouvelle France, including the land in question, “ en [111] toute propriété, justice et seigneurie,” with the right to distribute the lands. The rights of this company were subsequently surrendered to the King, and by him ceded to a fresh company, called “ the Company of the West Indies ; ” but in 1661, while the Company of New France retained its original powers, it made, on the 25th of February of that year, a grant to François Bissot, under whom the Labrador Company claim as successors in title.
This grant is no longer in existence, the original document, as well as the copy supplied to Bissot, having been destroyed by fire. Before their destruction, however, François Bissot, on the 11th of February, 1668, made an aveu, or declaration, to the Company of the West Indies, the successors of the Company of New France, setting forth the grant made to him by the last-named company in 1661. This aveu has been preserved, and it has been treated throughout these proceedings as containing a correct statement of the original grant.

This aveu is in the following terms :—

“ François Bissot, Sr. de la Rivière, lequel avoue et déclare tenoir de nos Seigneurs l'Isle aux Œufs, située au dessous de Tadoussac, vers les Montpellés, du costé du Nord, quarante lieues environ dud. Tadoussac, avec le droit et faculté de chasse et d'établir en terre ferme aux endroits qu'il trouvera plus commodes, la pesche sédentaire des loups marins, baleines, marsouins, et les autres négoces, depuis la dite Isle aux Œufs jusqu'aux Sept Isles et dans la Grande Anse, vers les Esquimaux où les Espagnols font ordinairement la pesche, avec les bois et terres nécessaires pour faire le dit établissement. Le tout à luy appartenant par titre de concession en date du vingt cinq Février mil six cent soixante en un, signé par extrait des délibérations de la Compagnie de la Nouvelle France, A. Chefault, à la charge de payer par chacun an, deux castors d'hyver ou dix livres tournois au receveur de la dite Compagnie, et les droits accoutumés pour la traite à la communauté de ce pays, au bas duquel titre est écrit

p. 3517

Dubois Davaugour, ratifié le don que dessus de laquelle dite déclaration il nous a requis acte et a signé. Ainsi signé, Bissot, avec paraphe.
“ Sur quoy, oüy le procureur fiscal, nous avons accordé acte au [112] dit sieur Bissot de son dit aveu et déclaration, et iceley condamné payer la dite redevance, tant pour le passé que pour ladvenir, suivant et conformément au dit titre de concession, sans néantmoins que le dit acte puisse être tiré à conséquence n'y préjudice, remettant au Roy ou à la Compagne de faire valoir le dit titre ou point. Mandons; &c.
“ Donné par nous Louis Théandre Chartier, Escuyer, Seigneur de Lotbinière, Conseiller du Roy, Lieutenant-Général Civil et Criminel, à Québec, les assizes tenant le onzième jour de Février mil six cent soixante-huit.”
It is not disputed that this concession gave to Bissot the seigneurie of the Isle aux Œufs, situated some distance to the west of Cape Cormorant, the western boundary of the land now in question. The contest arises on the passage commencing “ Avec le droit et faculté de chasse, &c.”
For the Crown it is contended that the effect of the grant is to give the seigneurie of the Isle aux Œufs, with the accessory right of hunting, &c., on the mainland within certain limits, the extent of which will be considered later. The company, on the other hand, contend that this grant gave a seigneurie, not only in the Isle aux Œufs, but in the territory on the mainland within the defined limits.
Their Lordships are of opinion that this contention of the company is wholly untenable. They agree on this point with the opinion expressed by all the judges in the Courts below, that the rights to be exercised on the mainland are only accessory to the seigneurie of the island. They consist in the permission (not to take possession of a defined district on the mainland, but) to establish at such places as may be most convenient, fixed stations for the capture of seals, &c., with the privilege of taking the timber and land necessary for the establishment of such stations. This last-mentioned provision effectually excludes the idea that the whole land was conceded to Bissot in fee, in which case it would have been superfluous to give him the right to take the wood and land necessary for the stations. Further, the reservation of an annual payment of two beaver skins for the right to hunt and fish is stated by Sir A. A. Dorion, C.J., in the judgment of himself and his colleagues, to be inconsistent [113] with the hypothesis that a fief on the mainland was granted, and this appears also to have been the opinion of Routhier, J., and it has not been controverted before this board.
One fact remains to be noticed, tending strongly to negative the company's contention that a seigneurie on the mainland was conceded by the grant of 1661. That document contains no limitation inland of the supposed fief. It might, therefore, as well have been made the basis of a claim to the whole territory northwards, forming part of La Nouvelle France, as to the land for six miles inland. A license to make stations for fishing and hunting, and trading with the natives in an unsettled country, might naturally be given without fixing its limits inland ; but it cannot be supposed that a fief would be created without some indication of what its boundaries were to be.

p. 3518

This leads to the consideration of the question, over what extent of territory on the mainland is the right of establishing stations for fishing, &c., conceded ? It is thus defined: “ Depuis la dite Ile aux Œufs jusqu'aux Sept Isles, et dans la Grande Anse, vers les Esquimaux où les Espagnols font ordinairement la pesche ;” that is, “ from the said Isle aux Œufs, up to the Seven Islands, and in the great cove in the direction of the Esquimaux where the Spaniards usually fish.” In English there can be no doubt this means that the fishing stations may be established in the land between the Isle aux Œufs and the Seven Islands, and also in the Grande Anse. It has, however, been contended that the proper construction of the French is different, and that the force of the word “ jusque ” is carried on to the word “ dans,” and that the passage has the same meaning as if it had run “ jusqu'aux Sept Isles et jusque dans la Grande Anse.” No authority for this construction has been given, and all the judges of the Court below, whose mother-tongue is French, agree that the right of establishing a station in the Grande Anse is distinct from the right to make stations up to the Sept Isles. Routhier, J., says : “ Ces derniers mots comprennaient-ils toute la terre ferme depuis Ies Sept Isles jusqu'à la Grande Arise ? Je ne le crois pas, car autrement on aurait fixé l'étendue dc la concession depuis l'Isle aux Œufs jusque dans la Grande Anse.” And Dorion, C.J., thus paraphrases [114] the grant ; “ Que la concession était de l'Isle aux Œufs en seigneurie, et de plus le droit de faire des établissements de pèche et de chasse sur la côte Nord jusqu'aux Sept Isles, puis dans la Grande Anse vers les Esquimaux.” Their Lordships have no doubt that this is the correct interpretation of the grant, and that it conceded to Bissot no seigneurie on the mainland, but only a right to make establishments for fishing and hunting up to Sept Isles, and also in the Grand Anse. Where that Grande Anse was situated will be considered hereafter.
It may be convenient at this point to refer, in order of date, to a map of 1678, which has been relied on as shewing that a seigneurie on the mainland was recognised as belonging to Bissot. This map is described as one “ pour servir à l'éclaircissement de papier terrier de la Nouvelle France,” and was dedicated to the Minister Colbert by the Intendent Duchesneau. Upon this map is printed “ Seigneurie du Sieur Bissot,” stretching along the coast from a little east of the Sept Isles to a place about two-thirds along the “ Isles de Mingan.” These islands follow another to a river along which is written “ Esquimaux,” and at a short distance eastward “ Baye des Espagnols ” is inscribed.
The bearing of this map on the question of boundary will, so far as is necessary, be referred to by-and-by. Its value as evidence of a seigneurie on the mainland is now the subject of consideration. The utmost effect that could be given to this map would be as evidence of reputation at the date it bears of the existence of seigneurie ; but this must necessarily give way before the proof which the representatives of Bissot have supplied that this grant to him did not in fact concede a seigneurie on the mainland. But undue importance has been given to this inscription on the map. Bissot had, in fact, a

p. 3519

seigneurie, namely, that of the Isle aux Œufs, to which belonged as an accessory a right of making establishments for hunting, fishing, &c., on the mainland. It was not necessary for the purpose of the chartographer that all this should be set out on the map. What was of importance to him was, to indicate over what extent of coast Bissot exercised rights whatever they might be, and he did this by writing the words referred to. This [115] interpretation is indeed impliedly adopted by Routhier, J., who is most favourable to the contention of the Labrador Company. He says speaking of the right of continuing the establishment of Mingan, “ Comme cette exploitation était un accessoire de l'ancienne seigneurie de l'Ile aux Œufs, il n'est pas étonnant que depuis des temps reculés on l'ait appelée seigneurie du sieur Bissot.”
But it is contended, on behalf of the Labrador Company, that, even if the grant of 1661 did not in itself create a seigneurie on the mainland in favour of Bissot, this effect was produced by an Ordonnance of Intendant Hocquart in 1733, and the subsequent action upon it by the French Crown.
This Ordonnance was pronounced in a suit instituted in 1732 by Pierre Carlier, the Adjudicataire Général des Fermes Unies de France, et du Domaine d'occident, against the heirs of François Bissot (who had died in 1676), and the heirs of Sieurs Lalande and Louis Jolyet, to whom the seigneuries of the isles and islets of Mingan had been granted by the French Crown in 1679, calling upon them to shew by virtue of what title they had taken possession of the territory occupied by them on the terre du nord (i.e., the mainland north of the St. Lawrence) below the River Moisy up to the Bay of the Spaniards.
The Adjudicataire Général did not dispute the title of Jolyet (deceased) to the Isles of Mingan, described in the grant of 1679, as the “ Islets du Mingan du côté du nord et qui se suivent jusqu'à l'ance des Espagnols.” He only required the title to anything claimed on the mainland. The seigneurie of the isles and islets of Mingan will therefore only be of importance in considering the question of boundary.
In answer to the demand of the Adjudicataire Général, the Defendants relied solely on the grant of 1661, under which they allege they had formed establishments and had continual possession for seventy-one years, and they conclude by a specific claim to be maintained in the possession and enjoyment of the lands granted to François Bissot, deceased, “ in accordance with the title of concession of the 25th of February, 1661.”
In reply the Adjudicataire Général, after taking the objection, not now insisted on, that the grant of 1661 was in conflict with [116] certain earlier grants, said that, admitting the grant of 1661 and the declaration of 1668 as valid title-deeds, and construing them in the sense most favourable to the defendants, the grant gave no proprietary title except on the Isle aux Œufs. On the mainland it conferred no right of ownership, but only the right to establish there “ la pesche sédentaire,” from l'Isle aux Œufs, up to the Seven Isles and in the Bay of the Spaniards, “ a right,” he continues, “ which it would have been useless to express, if the intention of the concession had been to give a right of property, and which by its expression positively

p. 3520

excludes a right of property.” He then presents substantially the arguments against the then defendants' claim which have been repeated before this Board, and he proceeds : “ Though the defendants have not even the right to make establishments in the tract of country from the Seven Islands up to the Bay of the Spaniards, it is in consequence of their title of concession that Bissot, deceased, has founded the establishment of Mingan continued by the defendants, for which they allege a continued possession of seventy-one years. Having regard to this long enjoyment of the seigneurie of Mingan, he will not dispute it, provided that they be limited to a concession of which the limits shall be certain and determined, so that they cannot injure or prejudice the 'Traites du Domaine du Roi.' It is at Mingan that they have fixed their establishment on the mainland. The Farmer-General will not offer opposition to the enjoyment of it being continued to them, and even that the property in it be accorded to them by a new title, if His Majesty should think ht to accord to them as recompense for the establishments which they have made there.” The Mingan here referred to as the place where the defendants are said to have fixed their establishment on the mainland is a station on the mainland opposite to the islands of Mingan, and is marked on several maps as the Mingan settlement.
The Adjudicataire Général concludes by demanding that he be maintained in his right, to the exclusion of all others, to exercise trading, hunting, fishing, and commerce in the tract of the domaine between l'Isle aux Coudres up to and including the River Moisy, that the defendants be condemned to pay him the [117] arrears of the annual dues of two beaver skins or ten livres tournois from 1661 to the then present year, unless they should prefer to give up (se désister de) the said concession, and consent to the reunion to the domaine of the said seigneurie of the Isle aux Œufs, which they long since abandoned, and moreover, also to pay the dues for the trading which they had carried on at Mingan ; and that the said defendants be bound to take a new title for the establishment made by them at Mingan aforesaid, to commence from Cormorant Point (“en allant”) in the direction of the Bay of the Spaniards, with such depth and on (payment of) such dues as it should please His Majesty to accord them.
By way of rejoinder to the reply of the Adjudicataire Général, the defendants reassert in general terms their claims, and ask whether their possession for seventy years, and the expenses they have been put to, and the losses they have suffered from the English in times of war, ought not to serve them in the place of title, and they conclude that, though they have proved their right, they consent to the River Moisy being the western limit of their concession up to the Bay of the Spaniards, and, therefore, they pray they may he relieved from the payment of the dues with which that territory is charged, and that they may be given a new title to it.
This was the state of the controversy which the Intendant Hocquart had to decide. After reviewing the pleadings, Monsieur Hocquart gave his judgment as follows:—
He took notice of the abandonment by the defendants of the territory

[1927lab]



Partnered Projects Government and Politics - Table of Contents Site Map Search Heritage Web Site Home