« AnteriorContinuar »
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 l’nited States' Government have indicated a definite plan of pro
cedure, 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 bad 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. 31 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 terri
S. Doc. 162, 58–2, vol 3- -3
tory. The Report points out that by the terms of the Treaty that portion of the boundary extending from the 56th degree of north latitude to the intersection of the 141st degree of west longitude following the summits of the mountains which extended in a direction parallel to the coast, and should these summits prove to be more than 10 marine leagues from the ocean the line should be drawn parallel to the windings of the coast, and should never exceed a distance of 10 marine leagues therefrom. The Report further points out that, as the line rested on so intricate a basis, a satisfactory solution could only be arrived at by accurately defining the point where the boundary intersects the Stikine River, and concludes with a recommendation that this point, if no other, should at once be settled.
In 1876 attention was again drawn to the Stikine River by the case of a convict named Peter Martin, in charge of Canadian constables, who had committed an assault upon one of them, for which he was tried and convicted in the British Columbian Court, at a point upon the Stikine alleged to be upon the United States' territory. A question also arose as to whether an establishment kept by a Canadian named Choquette on the same river was situated on British or United States' territory.
Under these circumstances, the Canadian Government, in March, 1877, sent Mr. Joseph Hunter, an engineer, to the Stikine River with instructions to ascertain with approximate accuracy the boundary on the said river between Canada and Alaska. His instructions, which were signed by Mr. Dennis, the Surveyor-General of the Dominion already mentioned, required him to lay down with approximate accuracy the crossing of the river (should the same occur within 10 marine leagues of the coast) by a line, in the words of the Treaty, “following the summit of the mountains
parallel to the coast.” The instructions further stated that it 32 was assumed that the point on the river where the line would
cross, connecting the two highest peaks of the mountains situate parallel to the coast adjoining on either side of the river (if within the distance of 10 marine leagues from the coast, measured and estimated on a course at right angles to the general bearing thereof opposite), would give the crossing of the river by the international boundary at that point.
A tracing was inclosed showing such general direction, and embracing 30 miles on each side of the Stikine, such general direction being taken as north 32° west, or south 32° east true. Mr. Hunter was required, therefore, “to lay off or estimate the 10 marine leagues on a course at right angles thereto, or north 58° east.”
In his Report, dated June 1877, Mr. Hunter stated that the crossing of the river by a line following the summit of the mountains parallel to the coast was situated at 19.13 miles from the coast, in a direction at right angles thereto.
Peter Martin had, in any view, been conveyed in custody through United States' territory, and he was therefore set at liberty.
The above facts and documents are referred to as showing that, when there was a question of applying the Treaty boundary on the spot, the Canadian Government put forward their view in strict accordance with the Treaty, working from the general direction of the coast-line, and acting on the principle that the 10 marine leagues line was to be applied only in the absence of mountains within that limit.
By a note dated the 15th January, 1877, Sir Edward Thornton, referring to the case of Mr. Choquette, above mentioned, had again drawn the attention of Mr. Fish to the expediency of defining the boundary. In this note Sir Edward Thornton makes use of the following language:
“The general impression with regard to the boundary seems to be as follows: The Russian Convention of 1825 places it on the summit of the coast range of mountains when within 10 marine leagues, and when that range is not within 10 marine leagues then at the 10 marine leagues from the coast, but under no circumstances further in the interior. The coast range rises immediately from tide waters, and the summit of thať range appears to be within 15 miles of the
This is shown by the fact that in the following up the valley of the
Stikine, the axis of the range is passed at 15 miles from the coast; to 33 this distance from the sea the course of the river bears easterly, thence
rounding the range in question northerly, receiving four or five glaciers which flow in an easterly direction from the summit of the range in the valley of the Stikine."
Sir Edward Thornton then proceeds to point out that these were facts which could not be positively decided without an actual survey.
He stated that he had been instructed to urge upon the Government of the United States to unite in a joint Commission to determine the point where the boundary intersected the Stikine River and on such other points on the boundary-line as might be considered advisable. In the meantime the status quo should be maintained. In conclusion, he added that if there were reasons which prevented the Government of the United States from agreeing to steps being taken for settling the boundary-line, Her Majesty's Government hoped that at least it would agree to some arrangement or modus vivendi by which no fresh claim injurious to either could be raised or strengthened.
In reply to this note, Mr. Fish, on the 20th February, 1877, informed Sir Edward Thornton that the attention of Congress had been requested to the subject. Congress, however, separated without any action having been taken.
On the 1st October, 1877, Mr. Plunkett, the British Chargé d'Affaires at Washington, wrote to Mr. Evarts, who had succeeded Mr. Fish, again asking to have the matter brought to the notice of the United States' Government. Mr. Evarts, on the 10th October, 1877, replied that the subject would again be brought to the attention of Congress upon its reassembling.
On the 13th December, 1877, Sir Edward Thornton called at the State Department in Washington for the purpose of again urging on Mr. Evarts the expediency of taking measures to settle the boundary. Not finding Mr. Evarts, he spoke to Mr. Seward, who suggested that, with regard to the Stikine, a provisional boundary might be arranged by an engineer on each side. Upon this suggestion being brought to the attention of the Canadian Government, it was recommended by a Committee of the Privy Council that Sir Edward Thornton be informed that the Canadian Government had already sent Mr. Hunter to the spot, and that copies of his Report · had been sent to the British Legation and for the
Department of State at Washington. 34 On the 19th January, 1878, Sir Edward Thornton trans
mitted to Mr. Evarts a copy of Mr. Hunter's Report, accompanied by a map showing the points where the boundary crossed the river, and inquired whether the Government of the United States would accept the boundary so ascertained until the exact line could be regularly determined. By a note of the 20th February, 1878, Mr. Evarts accepted this temporary arrangement, provided