ASST. COMMISSIONER OF CROWN LANDS TO
Department of Crown Lands,
Quebec, 13th May, 1861.
P. Fortin, Esq., Quebec.
Sir,—In reply to your letter of the 2d. Inst., enquiring whether the Eastern limit of the Province, at the Strait of Belle-Isle, has been settled, and also whether Isle a Bois belongs wholly to Canada, I have the honor to inform you that the subject appears to be still under consideration of the Imperial Government, respecting which however no decision has yet been communicated to the Executive Government of this Province, although such decision may now be expected at an early moment, whereof you will be duly apprized.
I have, &c.
14 File No. 1778 (1874), Dept. of Justice, Canada.
P. FORTIN TO COMMISSIONER OF CROWN LANDS, 12 MARCH, 1864.15
Laprairie, 12th March, 1864.
Sir,—In my report of progress of the date of the 31st August last, and in my general report of last year, I had the honor to bring to your knowledge the acts of authority practised by a Customs Officer of the Government of Newfoundland on Canadian Territory, at a place called Anse aux Blancs Sablons, in the Strait of Belle Isle.
These acts of authority consisted in the exaction of customs duties on goods that Messrs. Fruing & Co., and Messrs. Le Boutillier & Brothers had
15 Return and Supplementary Return to House of Commons (Can. 1868), pp. 6-7.
in their stores, which are situated in a part of l'Anse aux Blancs Sablons, which has always been recognized as belonging to Canada, and which is made to appear as being within the limits of Canada on a diagram officially furnished to me, in 1858, by the Department of Crown Lands, through the Provincial Secretary's Office, at my demand, with a view to know exactly where the eastern frontier of Canada lay in the Strait of Belle Isle, and how, much our Province owned of l'Anse aux Blancs Sablons, and of the Island called l'Ile à Bois, which is opposite to it, and contains valuable cod fishing establishments, and being rich fishing grounds, and which on that account it would be most important never to surrender to the Government of Newfoundland, as this island might be of great consequence in the future.
It seems to me that Canada has a right to the whole of the Bay of Blancs Sablons, by virtue of the Imperial Act, 6 Geo. IV., cap. 59, while the Officers of Newfoundland (for along with the Custom Officer above referred to, there was a Judge sent by the Government to exercise his authority on the coast), pretend it is entirely within the limits of the territory owned by Newfoundland on the coast of Labrador.
Before last year, no Officer of Newfoundland had ever attempted to claim any authority beyond a line drawn from the Anse aux Blancs Sablons Brook, at the bottom of the said Anse, and extending due south to the sea, and as I did not myself pretend to go beyond that said line, no conflict of jurisdiction was apprehended between the Officers of Newfoundland and Canada, and, indeed, there has never been any difficulty between any officer of the last named Province and me, but now with the pretensions of the neigh-boring Government over the whole of Anse aux Blancs Sablons, what will take place ? Will there not be a conflict of authority between the officers of the two interested countries, which will certainly turn to no good results ?
Under the existing circumstances, and pending the decision of the Imperial Government as to the eastern frontier of Canada in the Strait of Belle Isle, I have the honor to ask you, Sir, to instruct me as to what I shall do next season in l'Anse aux Blancs Sablons. Will I continue to exercise my jurisdiction over that part of the Bay which has always been recognized as belonging to Canada, or will I yield to the quite recent and extraordinary pretensions of the officials of the Government of Newfoundland.
Hoping that I may receive an answer before the opening of navigation.
I remain, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
Honorable WM. MCDOUGALL,
Commissioner of Crown Lands, Quebec.