The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume VIII

[16 March, 1926.]

1 Vide, Census of
Canada, 1870-71,
Vol. IV (Censuses of
Canada 1665-1871),
p. 87.

2 ib. sup. p. 95.

3 ib. sup. p. 98.

4 ib. sup. p. 106.
5 ib. sup. p. 144.

6 Census of
Canada, 1851-52,
Vol. I. p. 96.

7 ib. sup. p. 98

1 Census of
Canada, 1860-61,
Vol. I, p.34.

2 ib. sup. p. 35

3 ib. sup. p. 542

4 Census of
Canada, 1870-71
Vol. I, p. 56.

5 ib. sup. p. 306

1 Census of
Canada, 1870-71,
Vol. IV, p. lxvi, and
map pp. lxvii and lxix.

2 ib. sup. lxii,

1 Census of
Canada, 1880-81,
Vol. I, p. 44.

2 ib. sup. p. 248

p. 3727





No. 1422.


In submitting a statement upon the census returns of Canada affecting the territory within the Labrador peninsula, it is desirable first to take note of certain changes affecting the territorial limits of the Dominion in that quarter. The Dominion of Canada was called into existence by the British North America Act, 1867. Under section 6 of this Act, the part of the Province of Canada (as it existed at the date of the Act) which had formerly constituted the Province of Lower Canada was made the Province of Quebec. Three years later—by Imperial Order-in-Council of the 23rd June, 1870—Rupert's Land was admitted into and made a part of the Dominion of Canada. Since that time the whole Peninsula, exclusive only of the coastline from Blanc Sablon to Cape Chidley, has always been considered and treated for the purposes of the census as embraced within the Dominion as being part and parcel either of the Province of Quebec or of the unorganized territories of the Dominion.
Various censuses had been taken prior to Confederation which affected

p. 3728

territory within the Peninsula, but except as regards the censuses taken in the old Province of Canada (1840-1867) in 1851 and 1861, the published returns of these censuses consist merely of a general abstract of the aggregate return of population for each census district, and there are no details indicating the distribution of the population within each district. For instance, the report of the census of 1825 in the Province of Lower Canada gives for the county of Northumberland (which as constituted by Proclamation of the Lieutenant-Governor of Lower Canada of 7th May, 1792, published in pursuance of the Imperial Act 31 Geo. III., chap. 31, s. 14, comprehended all that part of the Province to the north of the St. Lawrence and east of the river Montmorency) simply a total return of 11,189.1
Similarly, the census or rather statistical inquiry made in December, 1827 (as adjusted to the new civil divisions and subdivisions of the Province established by the Act 9 Geo. IV. (1829), chap. 73, L. Can.), gives only a general return for the county of Saguenay (which under that Act replaced the County of Northumberland as regards the Labrador peninsula) of 8416.2 This return was accompanied by a “ recapitulation and estimates ” which included the following3:

Number of men employed in the King's Posts
and Mingan, within the Province   . .       . .   400 souls

Voyageurs employed in the Indian trade, some-
times sojuourning in the Indian territories       300

The figures given in this statement were, moreover, stated to be “exclusive of the military forces of the country and the aborigines wandering in the interior.”
The published returns of the censuses taken in Lower Canada in 1831 and 1844 are correspondingly general : they give a total return for the county of Saguenay in 1831 of 9,8914and in 1844 of 13,787.5
Brief notes are given below of the censuses taken under the Act of 1847 (10-11 Vic. c. 14, Can.) in the Province of Canada and, since Confederation, in the Dominion of Canada under the Census Act of 1870 (33 Vict. c. 21, Can.), and succeeding legislation. The Act last cited provided for a census of the Dominion of Canada in the first year of each decade.

CENSUS OF 1851-1852.

The census returns for the county of Saguenay give details for various places along the Saguenay River and the north shore of the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, and include for sub-district No. 364 “Escoumins, Sault au Cochon, Isle Jeremie et Postes du Roi” (King's Posts), a return of 12846 (which return, a footnote states, “includes 500 for King's Posts, and back settlements not taken”), and for sub-district No. 378 “Indians,” a return of 663.7

p. 3729

CENSUS OF 1860-61

In the report of this census, the returns for the county of Saguenay1 are detailed for several sub-districts, including the various localities along the north shore of the St. Lawrence and places which are not named. e.g.:—

River Moisi and other places      . .       . .       . .     705
Shelldrake and other places        . .       . .       . .    1050
Gibralter Cove and other places  . .       . .       . .    370
River St. Jean and other places    . .       . .       . .    649
Bay of Kegasca and other places . .       . .       . .    933

The table of census by origin for this county shows that the total return for the county of 6,101 included 804 Indians, all of them tributary to places named along the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.2 The table of census by “professions. trades and occupations” shows that the return for the county of Saguenay included 1,038 hunters.3


In the report of this census, the returns for the southeastern part of the Peninsula vast of the Bersimis River included under the Province of Quebec, in census district No. 152, “Labrador.”4 The detailed returns are given for various sub-districts lettered from A to H, identified with the names of places along the north shore of the St. Lawrence and comprising in all a superficial area of 38,856,353 acres. These returns include for:—

Sauvages des Sept Isles  . .       . .       . .       . .       . . 190
Sauvages Betsiamites      . .       . .       . .       . .       . . 552
Sauvages de Mingan       . .       . .       . .       . .       . . 560


These figures indicate that the census contained an enumeration of a very considerable portion of the Indians inhabiting the interior country of the southeastern half of the Peninsula. The census, however, contained a special return of the aboriginal population of Canada, which shows that the whole of the Indians within the Labrador peninsula were enumerated as subjects of Canada. This return was set forth in the form of a table with an accompanying illustrative map indicating the territory occupied

p. 3730

by each aboriginal group.1 Extracts from this table with the map are given below :

Names of Tribes.
Description of Places Inhabited.
Teritorial Super-
ficies in English
square miles.
The Esquimaux, In.
Littoral of the North Sea from Labrador to Alaska, the northern shores and islands of Hudson's Bay, with the islands of the Arctic Ocean. .
4,000 600,000
The Naskapis, Al.
Interior of Labrador, South-East Watersheds of Labrador, Rupert's Land to the east of Hudson's Bay, and the Mistassin Country   . .       . .
2,500 330,000
The Montagnais, Al.
North shore of the Gulf and mouth of the St. Lawrence, valley of the Saguenay River (These Indians do not fish). .
1,745 115,000

The following statements explanatory of the above table and the map appear in the accompanying text :2
“By the Census of 1871, an exact enumeration has for the first time been made of the aboriginal population within the limits of the Province of Prince Edward Island (323), of Nova Scotia (1,666), of New Brunswick (1,403), of Quebec (6,988), and of Ontario (12,978), showing a total for these five Provinces of 23,358.

“However, as the Census has recorded this population only by localities and not by tribes, it has been thought desirable to supply this deficiency, and at the same time to try to establish the number of the indigenous population throughout the whole extent of the British possession in North America, together with the approximate extent of

[following p. 2730]

Larger Version (92 kb)

p. 3731

the superficies inhabited by each of the tribes, or groups of tribes ; the result of which will be found summarized in the Table which follows. The information has been drawn from the Census of 1871, from the writings and notes of the missionaries ; from reports, works and memoirs published at different periods, and from details received, viva voce, from persons who have been in intimate relations with these clans.”

“The names given in the following Table are those sanctioned by history or by the authority of ethnographers to mark the distinct groups ; there are added to each, letters indicating the race to which the tribe belongs.
*             *             *             *
“Al. for the Algonquin race ; H. I. for Huron-Iriquois race ; D. D. for the Dene-Dindjie race ; and In. for the Esquimaux race (Innok.-Innoit).
*             *             *             *
“The small map which accompanies this Table is given to enable the reader to easily form an idea of the territory occupied by each aboriginal group, of the relative extent of the hunting grounds and of their situation as to the maritime shores or fisheries of the interior. The figures of reference pertain alike to the Table and the map.

“It is scarcely necessary to say that the hunting grounds of each Indian tribe are not actually marked off by precise and invariable limits, like those which divide the Provinces of an organized country from one another, and that, therefore, the figures, beyond those taken from the Census of 1871, are only approximate. As to the calculations of the superficies, they have, in common with the rest of the work, been very carefully made, and it is confidently believed they do not yield in point of exactitude to the estimates made from time to time (which all necessarily vary) of the superficies of the unsurveyed regions of the American continent. From the total superficies, shown in the Table by tribal occupancy, and given in detail hereafter, for each Province, the bays and the great estuaries have been eliminated.”

CENSUS OF 1880-81.

The census returns for census district No. 76, “Chicoutimi and Saguenay” (Province of Quebec), contains details for various sub-districts along the north shore of the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence and includes for sub-district “ff. Unorganized Territory” a total return of 1,416.1 The table of census by origin shows that the returns for the whole census district of Chicoutimi and Saguenay included 1,480 Indians, of which number 1,398 were in the unorganized territory.2

Census district No. 192, designated “The Territories,” gives the returns for the unorganized territories of Canada, including as sub-districts


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