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Pacifique, la ligne de démarcation pour cet espace sera une ligne parallèle aux sinuosités de la côte, de manière que la dite ligne de démarcation ne sera en aucune partie à plus de dix lieues de la côte.

"Il est, de plus, convenu que nul établissement ne sera formé par l'une des deux parties dans les limites assignées par cet Article à l'autre; les sujets Britanniques ne formeront aucun établissement, soit sur la côte, soit sur la lisière de terre ferme comprise dans les limites des possessions Russes, telles qu'elles sont désignées par cet Article; et, de même, nul établissement pareil ne sera formé par des sujets Russes au delà des dites limites."

The Russian negotiators amended the language of Mr. Stratford Canning's draft, which, as recast by them, read as follows:


“La ligne de démarcation entre les possessions des Hautes Parties Contractantes sur le continent et les Isles de l'Amérique Nord-Ouest sera tracée ainsi qu'il suit:

"A partir du point le plus méridional de l'Isle dite Prince of Wales, lequel point se trouve sous la parallèle due 54 degrés 40 minutes de latitude 26 nord et entre le 131me et le 133me degré de longitude ouest (méridien de Greenwich), la dite ligne remontera au nord le long de a passe dite Portland Channel jusqu'à l'endroit où cette passe se termine dans l'intérieur de la terre ferme au 56me degré de latitude nord-depuis ce dernier point la ligne de démarcation suivra la crête des montagnes dans une direction parallèle à la côte, jusqu'au point d'intersection de 141me degré de longitude ouest (même méridien).


"Il est entendu

"1. Que l'ile dite Prince of Wales appartiendra tout entière à la Russie.

“2. Que la lisière de côte mentionnée ci-dessus, qui doit appartenir à cette même Puissance et remonter de la parallèle du 56° de latitude ord au point d'intersection du 141° de longitude ouest, aura pour limites la crête des montagnes ainsi qu'il été dit plus haut, mais que partout où la distance entre la crête des montagnes et la mer se trouverait de plus de dix lieues marines, la limite de cette même lisière sera formée par une ligne parallèle aux sinuosités de la côte, et qui ne pourra jamais s'éloigner de la mer que de dix lieues marines.

"3. Qu'à partir du point d'intersection du 141° degré de longitude ouest, la ligne de ce même degré formera dans son prolongement vers la Mer Glaciale la frontière entre les possessions respectives des Hautes Parties Contractantes."

It is to be observed that the lisière in this draft is treated as commencing not at the mouth of Portland Channel but at the 56th parallel.

On the 1st March Mr. Stratford Canning wrote that he had signed the Convention. He described the line of demarcation as

laid down agreeably to Mr. George Canning's directions, notwithstanding some difficulties raised by the Russian Plenipotentiaries. The communications which passed between Mr. Stratford Canning and the Russian plenipotentiaries do not seem to have been recorded further than appears by the drafts above-mentioned.

On the 13th March Count Nesselrode addressed a despatch to Count Lieven transmitting the ratification of the Convention concluded with Mr. Stratford Canning. Count Lieven was instructed, when exchanging this instrument for that to be delivered by the British Government, to observe to Mr. G. Canning that it would, in the opinion of His Imperial Majesty, have been more in accordance with the principles of mutual justice and reciprocal convenience to give as a frontier to the lisière of coast which Russia was to possess from the 56th degree of north latitude to the point of intersection of the 141st meridian of west longitude the crest of the mountains which follow the sinuosities of the coast. This stipulation would have assured to the two Powers a perfect equality of advantages and a natural limit. England would have profited wherever the mountains were less than 10 marine leagues from the sea, and Russia wherever the distance separating them from it was greater. It appeared to Russia, Count Nesselrode said, that in the case of countries the geography of which was still little known it was impossible to propose a more equitable arrangement.

It is clear from this despatch that it is well understood that in no event would the boundary run further from the sea than the summit of the mountains, that the 10-league limit was inserted to provide for the contingency that these summits might be more than 10 leagues inland, and that the summits were selected instead of the base as giving the dividing line to provide for the contingency that the base might run down to the sea itself.

In reporting to Count Nesselrode the exchange of the ratifications, Count Lieven stated that he had made a point of observing to the Secretary of State how rigorous the limitations insisted on by Great Britain appeared to the Imperial Government.


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During the period for which the country now known as Alaska remained part of the Russian dominions-that is to say, till 1867– nothing occurred to bring up the question of the application, upon the spot, of the boundary prescribed by the Treaty of 1825, except a difficulty as to passage up the Stikine River (dealt with hereafter), which concerned rather the right of navigation than the location of the boundary.


In 1871 British Columbia was incorporated into Canada. No survey of the boundary-line between that province and Alaska had ever been made, and the whole region was then unknown and practically inaccessible. The Dominion Government, however, at once took steps in the direction of getting the boundary ascertained. On the 11th July, 1872, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia forwarded to the Dominion Government the copy of an address to him from the provincial Legislative Assemby reciting that the boundary-line between the adjoining territories of Alaska and the Province of British Columbia had never been properly defined, and requesting, especially in view of the probable development of mining operations in the northern part of that province, that the Dominion Government should take some action at an early date to have the boundary properly laid down.

The Dominion Government acceded to this request in a Report of a Committee of the Privy Council approved by the Governor-General on the 20th September, 1872. This Report was forwarded to Her Majesty's Government, and Sir Edward Thornton, British Ambassador at Washington, was instructed to approach the United States' Government upon the subject. A despatch from Sir Edward Thornton to Earl Granville of the 18th November, 1872, shows that he had mentioned the matter to Mr. Fish. The result of this communication was that the President, in his annual Message to Congress on the 2nd December, 1872, recommended the appointment of a Commission "to act jointly with one that may be appointed on the part of Great Britain to determine the line between

the territory of Alaska and the co-terminous possessions of Great Britain. On the 17th December, 1872, a Bill to provide for the determination of the boundary-line was laid before Congress and read a second time. The proposal, however, fell through on account of the unwillingness of the United States to incur the necessary expense.

On the 12th February, 1873, Mr. Fish informed Sir Edward Thornton that the cost of the survey would be about 1,500,000 dollars for the United States alone, and that it could not be completed in less than nine years in the field and one in the office. He suggested that it would be sufficient to decide upon some particular point, such as the head of Portland Canal, the points where the boundary crosses the Rivers Shoot, Stakeen, Taku, Iselcatt and Chelkaht, Mount St. Elias, and the points where the 141st meridian crosses the Rivers Yukon and Porcupine.

Sir Edward Thornton's despatch referring to Mr. Fish's statement was communicated to the Canadian Government; and by a despatch of the 27th November, 1873, the Governor-General requested Major Cameron, Her Majesty's Boundary Commissioner, to furnish ́an approximate estimate of the cost and of the time required for carrying out the objects of any Commission that might be appointed to determine and define the boundary-line between British Columbia and Alaska. Major Cameron was supplied with a copy of Sir Edward Thornton's despatch, and later with a Memorandum made by Mr. J. S. Dennis, the Surveyor-General of the Dominion, in which the cost of a survey, limited in the sense suggested by Mr. Fish, was discussed.

On the 18th February, 1875, Major Cameron sent in his Report, in which he exhaustively discusses the relative difficulty and cost of the proposed survey, whether limited as proposed by the United States or carried along the whole boundary. With reference to the scope of the survey, he makes the following observations:"While the United States' Government have indicated a definite plan of procedure, and named the points of the boundary which they consider it essential should be marked, the Government of Canada make no reference to such details, and, therefore, leave it to be assumed that they expect the terms of the Treaty to be fully and strictly carried out.

"The cost of marking the line will be seriously affected by the view which may prevail on this subject."


No action was taken on Mr. Fish's suggestion or upon the reports of Mr. Dennis and Major Cameron.

In 1875, a question having arisen as to whether certain settlers on the Stikine River were in British or United States' territory, the boundary again formed the subject of discussion between Sir Edward Thornton and Mr. Fish. A despatch from Sir Edward Thornton to Lord Derby, dated the 27th September, 1875, records that Mr. Fish had communicated to him a couple of letters received from the United States' Collector of Customs at Sitka, in which it was alleged that the point where the settlement was established was below the British custom-house on the Stikine, which customhouse was also supposed to be within United States' territory, that is within 10 marine leagues from the coast. Mr. Fish then asked Sir Edward Thornton what he thought could be done to settle the question of jurisdiction. Sir Edward Thornton replied that the occurrence went to prove the wisdom of the recommendation of Her Majesty's Government that no time should be lost in laying down the boundary between the two territories. As it was, he said he could see no way of deciding the question except by send ing officers on behalf of each country to take observations and determine on whose territory the new settlers had established themselves. He observed that when the question of laying down the boundary was discussed about two years before, it was suggested that if the whole survey could not be made the points where the territory met could be fixed on the rivers which run through both of them. Mr. Fish replied that even for this partial survey he feared it would be difficult to obtain the necessary grant during the next session of Congress, but he suggested that as the weight of evidence seemed at present to be in favour of the point in question being in United States' territory, the settlers should be called upon to suspend operations for the present and until the question of territory could be decided.


This despatch was laid before a Committee of the Privy Council of Canada, who reported that, in view of the circumstances represented by Mr. Fish, the Government deemed it desirable that an officer should be sent by the Government of Canada or of British Columbia to ascertain whether the settlement alluded to and the British custom-house were within British terriS. Doc. 162, 58–2, vol 3- -3

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