p. 3904

the old French chart of this coast on which the eastern end of the Narrows is indicated as the mouth of Hamilton river. If priority has any weight in deciding the proper nomenclature, then we must accept the original French usage of Hamilton river to include the waterways to the eastern end of the Narrows. The use of the name Lake Melville for. a part of the lower portion of the Hamilton river is by no means a recent innovation. This term and Hamilton inlet are applied on the 1871 Adm. Chart No. 1422 precisely as used in Memoir 141. Certain later Adm. charts, however, like the 1881, 375 chart, apply Hamilton inlet in the broadly inclusive way up to the head of Goose Bay instead of following the original French plan of designating the Lake and Narrows as the lower end of Hamilton river. As a matter of fact, the Admiral finds it necessary in order to make his own statements understandable to adopt our nomenclature in parts of his memorandum, e.g., line 1, page 8.
The test is proposed (paragraph III) for deciding what constitutes an inlet of the sea by classing as such any waterway debouching into the sea which is “ permanently navigable by ocean-going vessels.” If this were generally applied in North America, Quebec and Washington would become coastal cities, whereas both are conceded to be located well about the mouths of the rivers on which they are situated. If this criterion is not acceptable on the St. Lawrence and Potomac rivers, it is not any more appropriate in connection with the waterways connected with the Hamilton river. The Lower St. Lawrence and the Saguenay rivers are both several times deeper than the Narrows.
Application to South America of the test of permanent navigability by sea-going vessels gives even more extraordinary results than it does in North America. The Amazon main river is navigable for ocean steamers as far as Iquitos, 2,300 miles from the sea, and 486 miles higher up for vessels drawing 14 feet of water. (“ Ency. Britannica.”)
Such a criterion manifestly cannot be seriously considered in the light of these examples. Neptune himself would beg to be excused if asked to rule over two thousand miles of the Amazon forests.
In its concluding paragraph this memorandum objects to accepting Ticoralak and Turner headlands as marking the proper mouth of the Hamilton river drainage system. But various other examples could be cited to show that from the standpoint of custom and usage that this is a very modest claim. This would give the mouth of the river system a width no more than three times that of the Hamilton immediately above Lake Melville. The width of the mouth of the Amazon river is usually measured from Cabo do Norte to Punto Patijoca, a distance of 207 statute miles.

p. 3905

GEOGRAPHICAL CONSIDERATIONS AS TO THE CANADA-NEWFOUNDLAND BOUNDARY IN LABRADOR.
BY J. W. GREGORY.

The Newfoundland Government is fortunate in having so eminent a geologist as Professor Gregory to discuss my report on the Lower Hamilton river basin. I only regret that Professor Gregory has not had an opportunity for a personal examination of the region dealt with in his twenty page memorandum. That might have led him to revise his own earlier published view of the nature of Hamilton inlet based on the observations of Dr. Robert Bell and others, but not on his own. Geological discussions and opinions based on any other than an intimate personal knowledge of the field in question are apt to yield unsatisfactory or erroneous results. A single example will illustrate the point. Several years ago a well-known geologist was sent by the United States Government to Alaska during the Nome gold stampede, to make a reconnaissance report. The report included a description of a volcano in south-eastern Alaska, observed only from the deck of a steamer, which had never been previously reported. This geologist had seen a conical mountain with sides having just the angle which volcanoes ordinarily assume and the new volcano was accepted until later investigation, at closer quarters than the deck of a steamer, showed it to be composed of limestone.
Dr. Robert Bell, whom Professor Gregory quotes as having classed Lake Melville as a fiord, examined a great deal of the Labrador coast, but many of his observations, like the Alaskan one just mentioned, were made unavoidably from the deck of a vessel. His observations of Hamilton inlet and Lake Melville appear to have been made from outside the Narrows. Dr. Bell's Labrador Peninsula map includes a strip of Palaeozoic rocks across the north-western arm of the Labrador Peninsula. (Scott. “ Geogra Mag.” Vol. XI, opposite page 361, 1895). This may possibly be correct, but it has never been placed on the official maps of the Geological Survey of Canada. Dr. Bell's knowledge of the Lake Melville physiography is based not on such long range observations as Professor Gregory's, but his classification of the Lake Melville basin as a fiord is not entitled to greater weight than has been accorded his belt of Palaeozoic rocks west of Ungava bay. I have referred elsewhere in discussing the Labrador Counter-case to another authority, A. P. Low, whom Professor Gregory quotes as having applied the term “ fiord ” to this basin, but it may be added here that while Low called Hamilton inlet a fiord he considered it to be the product of river erosion as the following quotation1 plainly indicates :—“ From the above facts some idea can be had of the great length of time required for the erosion of the main valley of the river, from the falls to the mouth of Hamilton inlet, which is really a submerged portion of this river valley.”

1 Geological Survey, Canada, Vol. 8, Pt. L., 1895

p. 3906

Professor Gregory shows considerable zeal in citing from the old Admiralty charts and other sources (pages 8 and 9) the application of Hamilton inlet to the waterway called Lake Melville on Chart 420 and in Memoir Geological Survey of Canada, 141. But he fails to mention a still earlier chart which designates this lake and the Narrows as a river. The hydrographic nomenclature used by me in Memorandum 141 adopts, in a general way, the river conception of the early French charts, including one prepared by Sieur Jean Louis Fornel under the authority of the Governor General of New France. This chart bears the date of 1748 and has priority in date of publication over all the Admiralty charts cited by Professor Gregory. It was prepared after Fornel had landed men on the coast near Rigolet to spend a winter in exploration, and includes presumably the results of their observations in the interor. Some of the British hydrographers evidently had an entirely erroneous conception concerning the volume of river drainage entering what they at a much later date called Hamilton inlet which was doubtless a factor in causing them to disregard Fornel's designation of the Narrows and Lake Melville as a river and class these waterways as an inlet. The general chart (Admiral No. 2060B), which shows Hamilton river as a stream less than 10 miles long entering Goose Bay, is evidence of the misleading character of the information which was accessible to some of the British chart makers. The French had a far better knowledge of the interor geography of Labrador than their British successors which lead them in the 1748 chart to designate correctly the terminal end of the Hamilton river waterways as a river. On Fornel's chart (1748) the designation “ R. de Kessessakiou,” printed just seaward of the present Narrows, makes it plain that he included the Narrows as a part of the Hamilton river.
The French explorers who preceded Fornel on this coast also used for the Narrows the designation river. Le Gardeur de Courtemanche, in his chart dated 1704, called them the “ R. Quesesasquion,” and another chart, showing the explorations of Pierre Constantin in 1715, includes an outlet corresponding with the position of the Narrows which is designated “ Grande Riviere des Quessesakion.” The Arrowsmith map, “ Chart of Labrador and Greenland,” published in 1825 by A. Arrowsmith, “ Hydrographer to His Majesty,” shows nothing in contravention of the previous French application of the term “ river ” to the Narrows. On it, as on succeeding maps, the expansion above the Narrows is called Lake Melville, and Ivuktuk or Hamilton inlet is applied only to the expansion well to the eastward of the waterway now called the Narrows. In the Admiralty chart, 1422, printed in 1871, Hamilton inlet is applied in the same way, including nothing above the Narrows, the interior expansion being called Lake Melville.
In view of the evidence of the old charts cited above, it appears that Professor Gregory's statement, “ The traditional use of the name Hamilton inlet for the part now known as Lake Melville seems historically correct,” should be revised to read seems—“ historically incorrect.” The early French charts have agreed in applying the name river to the Narrows, while early English charts have confined Hamilton inlet to the expansion east of the Narrows.

p. 3907

In Mein. 141 Hamilton inlet was used in conformity with the old charts for the outermost funnel-shaped part of these waterways which I have classed as a ria. Professor Gregory gives three reasons for objecting to the classification of the outermost funnel-shaped entrance to the Hamilton river basin as a ria. Although admitting that in its funnel shape the bay corresponds to his own and other definitions of a ria, he claims (a) that it extends into the land farther than a ria should according to the maximum of 31 miles allowed by Professor Penck's definition. But since the Hamilton inlet ria extends into the land only 45 miles, and no farther than the Firth of Forth, which Gregory cites as a British example of a ria, its size cannot be seriously held even by him to exclude it from the class of rias ; (b) even if the Hamilton inlet ria has not been associated with Hamilton river drainage previous to the Glacial period, it must have been the outlet of the Double Mer valley from the time of its birth, which should furnish it a sufficiently ancient lineage to meet Professor Gregory's requirements ; (c) Ria has been given by some geographers a wider meaning than the usage of Gregory and Penck admit. Professor Gregory's third objection to calling Hamilton inlet a ria because it leads up to a fiord—the Double Mer—has no weight, according to Gulliver's usage of the term, who indicates its limitations as follows : “ The term ria, from the Spanish, may be advantageously used to cover all types of subaerially carved triangles, including Von Richthofen's fjord, ria, Dolmtian, and liman types” (“ Shoreline Topography,” Proc. Am. Academy Arts and Sciences, vol. 34, no. 8, p. 220, 1899).
Thus it will be seen that while the funnel-shaped bay outside the Narrows does not quite fit some, it does fit other definitions of ria in a satisfactory manner.
An important difference of opinion between Professor Gregory and myself exists regarding the nature of the body of water called Lake Melville, on chart 420, and in my report (Memoir 141, Geological Survey of Canada). Professor Gregory considers it a fiord. Lake Melville is the outermost and largest of a series of three closely connected lakes. Narrow, short channels, a fraction of a mile in length, join Grand lake and Little lake to Lake Melville near its north-western extremity, while its south-western end narrows through Goose Bay into the normal Hamilton river channel, which, just above Goose Bay, is approximately a mile wide, nearly as wide as the outlet of Lake Melville. A careful measurement of the drainage basin of this lake shows it to receive the drainage of 60,750 square miles.1 Professor Gregory has compared the Hamilton river to the Thames, but the latter, including the Medway river, has a drainage basin of only 5,924 square miles—less than one-tenth that of the Hamilton river basin. The drainage basin, which reaches the sea through the Narrows, the outlet of the Hamilton river system, is thus seen to be equivalent to about three-quarters of the total area of Great Britain, which is estimated at 84,447 square miles (E. Réclus, “ The Earth and its Inhabitants,” vol. 4, P. 1). The Hamilton river system, including the chain of lakes near its head

1 Low's map of Labrador peninsula has been used in making this estimate.

p. 3908

and the terminal Lake Melville, has a length of about 630 miles, and, as stated above, a drainage basin of 60,750 square miles. Professor Gregory asks us to class the outermost lake, which is more than 20 miles wide, of this great drainage system as a fiord. A typical fiord on the west coast of America is called the Portland canal. The name is sufficient indication of the long parallel sides which characterise it and other ordinary fiords. In the words of Professor Gregory (“ Nature and Origin of Fiords,” p. 487) : “ Their valleys are long and straight, and many miles of them can be seen at a glance.” Again he says: “ They are typically long, straight, narrow channels ” (page 5). But Gregory points out a still more important characteristic of fiords. He writes : “ Thus, in Scandinavia, the chief rivers rise near the fiords, but flow south-eastward across Sweden into the Baltic ; in New Zealand the rivers which rise close to the western fiords flow south-eastward across nearly the whole width of the country to the eastern coast ; and in America, both in the far south in Patagonia and in the north-west in Alaska and north-western Canada, the rivers flow away from the fiords (italics are mine), and either after a sinuous course reach the sea to the north, or across America to the Atlantic. Hence, owing to the comparative shortness of the rivers that flow into the fiords, the alluvial plains beside them are small and scattered.” This statement of Gregory's is well supported by the measurement which I have made of the drainage area of the longest and most typical fiord in Norway. As depicted on a large scale Norwegian chart, its total drainage basin is 4,715 square miles. Comparison of these figures with the 60,750 square miles of the Lake Melville drainage basin and the parallel sides of the Sogne and other representative fiords with the irregular widely flairing ones of Lake Melville will indicate at once how very far Lake Melville departs from the physiographic form called fiord.
This review of the contrasts between Lake Melville and characteristic examples and definitions of fiords appears to indicate that the name lake is a far more suitable term for this body of water than fiord. Its great extension below sea level, which it shares with the adjacent Grand Lake, as well as with Lake Ontario, which reaches 492 feet below tide, cannot in any way be held to remove it from the category of lakes. The great drainage system, which it transmits, and to which it belongs, its shape and the considerable lowland plain bordering it, are features which put it outside the class of fiords. My usage of the name lake is also historically correct, since it conforms with the earliest charts which designated the Narrows as a river.
Before concluding these remarks on the lacustrine aspects of the Lake Melville basin attention may be called to the fact that none of the bodies of water with which Professor Gregory has compared Lake Melville resemble so much as does the long inland basin in eastern Sweden, 75 miles long, which joins the Baltic in the vicinity of Stockholm. Like Lake Melville this waterway is directly connected with the sea, and a certain amount of salt water enters the eastern end. This basin is known on the charts on Lake Maelar not as a fiord.

[1927lab]



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