Newfoundland; Economic, Diplomatic, and Strategic Studies

By R. A. MacKay | Go to book overview

XIII
THE LABRADOR BOUNDARY DISPUTE1

THE dispute as to the exact location of the boundary between Canada and Newfoundland in Labrador had its origins in the obscure and ambiguous phraseology of the imperial statutes and proclamations, which, in the second half of the eighteenth century and in the first half of the nineteenth century had tossed Labrador back and forth like a shuttlecock between the two rival claimants.

The process was begun in 1763 when by the Treaty of Paris Canada was ceded by France to Great Britain. The British government, in arranging for the administration of the vast territory thus acquired, decided to entrust Labrador to Captain Thomas Graves, the newly-appointed Governor of Newfoundland.2 Graves's commission authorised him to establish courts, to appoint judges, and, in short, to take all the measures necessary for the administration of justice and for the maintenance of law and order in Labrador as well as in Newfoundland. His commission was supplemented by the instructions issued to him under the Royal Sign Manual.3 These directed him to prevent aliens or strangers from fishing or drying fish "on any of the coasts or in any of the harbours of the islands and territories" within his jurisdiction, except Frenchmen exercising their rights under the Treaty of Utrecht and the Treaty of Paris. He was also instructed to visit "all the coasts and harbours" in order to inspect and examine the state of the fisheries, in order to obtain accurate maps of his extensive territory, and in order to "search and explore" Davis Inlet with the object of discovering whether it was connected with Hudson's Bay "or any other enclosed sea". Moreover,

____________________
1
See map in Appendix.
2
Commission to Sir Thomas Graves, 25th April, 1763. Labrador Boundary Dispute Documents.
3
Instructions to Sir Thomas Graves. Ibid.

-460-

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