ORDER-IN-COUNCIL (CANADA), 23 FEBRUARY, 1860.2
COPY OF A REPORT OF A COMMITTEE OF THE HONORABLE THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL, APPROVED BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL ON THE 23RD FEBRUARY, 1860.
The Committee of Council have had before them a memorandum of the Hon. the Commissioner of Crown Lands transmitting a report of Jos. Bouchette, Esqr., Deputy Surveyor General, dated 18th January, 1860, on a communication from P. Fortin, Esquire, commanding the Government vessel “ La Canadienne ” respecting “ Wood Island,” better known as “ Isle au Bois Blanc,” and on the expediency of the demarcation, on the ground of the line of boundary between the Provinces of Canada and Newfoundland, the latter Province claiming the said Island, which would, however, appear more properly to be an appendage to Canada.
In a subsequent memorandum dated 16th February, 1860, the Commissioner states that the said Island would, in the opinion of Mr. Fortin, be valuable to Canada as a Fishing Station, there being extensive cod and herring fishery establishments (by Canadians only) thereon already. That it is well sheltered and under the lee affords good anchorage. That it would be suitable for the landing place of a submarine telegraph cable, and with a Light House on the S.E. point could be securely approached by Ocean steamers to deliver despatches at all times ; whilst it possesses advantages for the establishment of a coaling station for Canadian line in the Straits ; and that the acquisition by Canada of that part which lies towards the Newfoundland border is considered by him of importance to this Province.
That Messrs. Edmonstone, Allan & Co. are of opinion that the Island affords convenient shelter and safe anchorage, but that until that part of the Gulf is properly lighted, few vessels will adopt the route thro' the Straits, whilst the Harbour could always be resorted to as a refuge whether belonging to Canada or Newfoundland. That as regards its advantage as a coaling depot
“ no steamers will,” they state, stop for coal at a way station. That the position of the Island as regards the Canadian coast and boundary, and the nominal value to Newfoundland of that portion lying East of the probable line of demarcation make the acquirement of the whole by Canada desirable provided it can be done for a very trifling consideration.
2 Public Records Office, C.O. 42, Vol. 622.
The Committee recommend that Your Excellency invite the attention of the Colonial Secretary to this subject with the view of determining to which Province the Island in question belongs or shall belong.
WM. H. LEE.
Endorsed : Enclosure in Sir E. Head's despatch. No. 16. Feb'y. 25/60.
DUKE OF NEWCASTLE TO SIR EDMUND B. HEAD,
13 APRIL, 1860.3
(Copy,—Canada,—No. 35.)Downing Street, 13th April, 1860.
Sir,—I have to acknowledge your Despatch, No. 16, dated the 24th February last, enclosing a copy of a Report from a Committee of the Executive Council of Canada, approved by yourself, recommending to my consideration the question whether the Island called Wood Island or “ Ile au Bois ” on the coast of Labrador, should be held to belong to Canada or to Newfoundland.
2. You refer me to “ Bayfield's Chart of 1832–34,” and consider that the Island as laid down in this chart cannot be esteemed “ adjacent ” to that part of the Labrador coast, which is placed by Royal Instructions under the Government of Newfoundland, and that it is consequently within the Territory of Canada. On referring to this chart, I cannot say that I think it so conclusive on the question of proximity as it appears to yourself. Before, however, Her Majesty's Government consider this question further, they would be glad to have before them a Report of the Law Officers of your Government, as to the legal authority on which the claim of Canada rests to the Territory to which you consider the island an appendage. I refer you, among other matter for the consideration of those officers, to the Acts of Parliament named in the margin.
I have, &c.
3Return and Supplementary Return to House of Commons (Can. 1868), pp. 2-3.