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rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, and all other British subjects, to the territory south of the said forty-ninth parallel, should be respected.
The circumstances, under which this treaty was made and signed, are explained in a memorandum subsequently drawn up by Sir Richard Pakenham, the negotiator thereof on the part of Great Britain, as follows:
“I have examined the papers put into my hands by Mr. Hammond, relating to the line of boundary to be established between the British and United States possessions on the north-west coast of America, and I have endeavoured to call to mind any circumstance which might have occurred at the time when the Oregon treaty was concluded (15th June, 1846) of a nature either to strengthen or invalidate the pretension, now put forward by the United States Commissioner, to the effect that the boundary contemplated by the treaty would be a line passing down the middle of the channel, called Canal de Haro, and not, as suggested on the part of Great Britain, along the middle of the channel called Vancouver's or Rosario Strait, neither of which two lines could, as I conceive, exactly fulfil the conditions of the treaty which, according to their literal tenor, would require the line to be traced along the middle of the channel (meaning, I presume, the whole intervening space) which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island. And I think I can safely assert that the treaty of 15th June, 1846, was signed and ratified without any intimation to us whatever, on the part of the United States Government, as to the particular direction to be given to the line of boundary contemplated by Article 1 of
“ All we knew about it was that it was to run through the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca Strait to the Pacific Ocean.'
“ It is true that in a despatch from Mr. McLane, then United States Minister in London, to the Secretary of State, Mr. Buchanan, dated 18th May, 1846, which despatch, however, was not made public until after the ratification of the treaty by the Senate, Mr. McLane informs his Government that the line of boundary about to be proposed by Her Majesty's Government, would probably be substantially to divide the territory by the extension of the line on the parallel of fortynine degrees to the sea, that is to say, to the arm of the sea called Birch's Bay, thence by the Canal de Haro and Straits of Fuca to the ocean.'
“ It is also true that Mr. Senator Benton, one of the ablest and most zealous advocates for the ratification of the treaty (relying, no doubt, on the statement furnished by Mr. McLane), did, in a speech on the subject, describe the intended line of boundary to be one passing along the middle of the Haro channel.
“ But, on the other hand, the Earl of Aberdeen, in his final instructions, dated 18th May, 1849, says nothing whatever about the Canal de Haro, but, on the contrary, desires that the line might be drawn 'in a southerly direction through the centre of King George's Sound and the Straits of Fuca to the Pacific Ocean.
“ It is my belief that neither Lord Aberdeen nor Mr. McLane, nor Mr. Buchanan, possessed at that time a sufficiently accurate knowledge of the geography or hydrography of the region in question to enable them to define more accurately what was the intended line of boundary than is expressed in the words of the treaty, and it is certain that Mr. Buchanan signed the treaty with Mr. McLane's despatch before him, and yet that he made no mention whatever of the Canal de Haro as that through which the line of boundary would run, as understood by the United States Government.
5 My own despatch of that period contains no observation whatever of a tendency contrary to what I thus state from memory, and they, therefore, so far, plead in favour of the
This document shows that the contracting parties were quite unaware of the importance of the question, and were not accurately acquainted with the geography of the district with which they were dealing. It appears
that at the time this treaty was made (1) only one of the two straits above mentioned had been surveyed and used, viz., the Rosario Strait, and it would certainly seem to be the natural view to take of the intention of the negotiators of the treaty, that the word "channel” therein used had reference to that strait.
Some time elapsed before any attempt was made to carry out the terms of the treaty, and to mark out the boundary line therein stipulated.
A survey of the so-called Gulf of Georgia was, however, set on foot by the British Government, but the same does not appear to have proceeded with very great rapidity.
At length, after some correspondence on the subject between the two Governments, Mr. Crampton, the then British Minister at Washington, was instructed to propose that Commissioners should be appointed for the purpose of carrying down such parts of the boundary line as should, on consultation, seem advisable to the two Governments. Accordingly, on the 13th January, 1848, he wrote to Mr. Buchanan a letter, from which the following is an extract :(3)
“ From the lake of the woods to the Gulf of Georgia
(1) American State Papers, p. 42; Letter of Crampton.
the line is described by the treaty of 15th June, 1846, as running along the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, and the ascertainment of that parallel on the surface of the ground being an operation of astronomical observation, can be complished with as much precision at a future time as at present.
“But between the Gulf of Georgia and the Straits of Fuca, the line is less distinctly and accurately defined by the verbal description of the treaty by which it is established, and local circumstances render it probable that if this part of the line were not to be precisely determined, the uncertainty as to its course might give rise to disputes between British subjects and citizens of the United States. It appears, therefore, to Her Majesty's Government, that it would be wise to proceed forthwith to take measures for marking out that portion of the line of boundary.
“ For this purpose, Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that it might probably be sufficient that each Government should appoint a naval officer of scientific attainments, and of conciliatory character, and that those officers should be directed to meet at a specified time and place, and should proceed in concert to lay down the above-mentioned portion of the boundary line.
“ The first operation of these officers would be to determine with accuracy the point at which the forty-ninth parallel of latitude strikes the eastern shore of the Gulf of Georgia, and to mark that point by a substantial monument.
“From that point, they would have to carry on the line along the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, to the centre of the channel between Vancouver's Island and the continent; and this point, as it probably cannot be marked out by any object to be permanently fixed on the spot, should be ascertained by the intersection of the cross-bearings of natural cr artificial landmarks.
“ The two officers would then have to carry on the line down the centre of that channel, and down the centre of the Straits of Fuca to the ocean. And this water-line must, as ju would seem, be determined also by a series of points, to be ascertained by the intersection of cross-bearings.
“ But in regard to this portion of the boundary line, a preliminary question arises, which turns upon the interpretation of the treaty, rather than upon the result of local observation and survey.
“The convention of the 15th June, 1816, declares that the line shall be drawn through the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island; and upon this may be asked what the word "channel' was intended to mean?
“ Generally speaking, the word "channel,' when employed in treaties, means a deep and navigable channel. In the present case it is believed that only one channel—that, namely, which was laid down by Vancouver in his charthas, in this part of the gulf, been hitherto surveyed and used; and it seems natural to suppose that the negociators of the Oregon convention, in employing the word "channel, had that particular channel in view.
“ If this construction be mutually adopted, no preliminary difficulty will exist, and the Commissioners will only have to ascertain the course of the line along the middle of that channel, and along the middle of the Straits of Fuca, down to the sea.
“ It is, indeed, on all accounts, to be wished that this arrangement should be agreed upon by the two Governments, because, otherwise, much time might be wasted in surveying the various intricate channels, formed by the numerous islet which lie between Vancouver's Island and the mainland, and some difficulty might arise in deciding which of those channels ought to be adopted for the dividing boundary.
“The main channel marked in Vancouver's chart is, indeed, somewhat nearer to the continent than to Vancouver's Island, and its adoption would leave on the British side of the line rather more of those small islets with which that part of the gulf is studded than would remain on the American side. But these islets are of little or no value, and the only large