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pass through the Canal de Haro. The fourth meeting of the joint commission was held on the 27th October, 1857, on board H.M.S. Satellite, in Simiahmoo Bay, when another discussion took place, Captain Prevost pointing out that the Rosario Strait was the channel preferred by vessels sailing through the waters between Vancouver's Island and the mainland.
On the following day Captain Prevost proceeded to put the substance of his views on the boundary question into writing, in a letter addressed to Mr. Campbell, which was as follows:0—.
"Her Britannic Majesty's ship Satellite, “Simiahmoo Bay, Gulf of Georgia, Oct. 28, 1857. “SIR,—With reference to the various consultations we have had as to the direction in which the boundary line should run through the channel separating the continent from Vancouver's Island, at and to the southward of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and from thence to the Pacific Ocean, I have the honour to communicate to you in writing the views I entertain on the subject.
“ 2. As the water boundary line to be determined is described in the first article of the treaty between Great Britain and the United States of 15th June, 1846, it, in my opinion, clearly follows that the direction in which the said line is to be traced should alone be sought in the words of that treaty. I will here quote them so far as they relate to the particular line of water boundary :
6. The line of boundary between the territories of Her , Britannic Majesty and those of the United States shall be continued westward along the said forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to 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 Straits
(1) American State Papers, p. 10.
to the Pacific Ocean; provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the said channel and straits south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude remain free and open to both parties.'
“3. Now upon reference to the chart it will be found, what indeed is the fact, that at the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude there is only one navigable channel lying between the continent and Vancouver's Island. This channel is commonly called the Gulf of Georgia, and in its open waters will be found the initial point of boundary line. From this point there can be but little difficulty in carrying the boundary line, according to the words of the treaty, southerly through the middle of the said channel to about 48° 45' of north latitude. Here the waters are studded with islands, through which, it is generally admitted, two navigable passages are to be found. One is now commonly designated the Rosario Strait, and is situated near the continent; the other is called the Canal de Arro, and is found nearer to Vancouver's Island. Through which of these two channels the boundary line should pass may at first sight appear a matter of doubt, but the precise wording of the treaty, I think, sufficiently determines it. The line is to be carried through the middle of a navigable channel separating the continent from Vancouver's Island, and the only navigable channel separating the continent from Vancouver's Island at this position is the channel generally called the Rosario Strait. Therefore, my entire conviction is that the boundary line should be carried through those waters known as the Gulf of Georgia into the Rosario Strait, to the Straits of Fuca, and thence to the Pacific Ocean.
“4. By a careful consideration of the wording of the treaty it would seem distinctly to provide that the channel mentioned should possess three characteristics :—1st. It should separate the continent from Vancouver's Island. 2nd. It should admit of the boundary line being carried through the middle of it in a southerly direction. 3rd. It should be a navigable channel. To these three peculiar conditions the channel known as the Rosario Strait most entirely answers.
“ 5. It is readily admitted that the Canal de Arro is also a navigable channel, and therefore answers to one characteristic of the channel of the treaty; although I may as well here mention, that from the rapidity and variableness of its currents, and from its being destitute of anchorages, except at extreme ends, it is unsuitable for sailing vessels, and would scarcely ever be used by them so long as the passage through the Rosario Strait remained available, as the currents in that Strait being generally regular, and the anchorages convenient and secure, it is by far the more navigable channel of the two. But the Canal de Arro will not meet the two remaining characteristics of the channel of the treaty. It literally and geographically does not separate the continent from Vancouver's Island, that continent having already been separated by another navigable channel, the Rosario Strait; and further, it will be found, on tracing the line of boundary according to the literal wording of the treaty, which appears to me peculiarly precise and clear, that the line to reach the Canal de Arro must proceed for some distance in a westerly direction, for which deviation from a southerly direction no provision is made in the treaty. I, therefore, am unable to admit that the Canal de Arro is the channel of the treaty.
“6. Having thus frankly communicated in writing the views that I have already expressed to you verbally, I shall feel indebted to you if you will be so good as to favour me in like manner with your views on the subject, in order that I may devote to them every consideration and reflection.
“ With the greatest respect and esteem, I beg you will allow me to subscribe myself “ Your most obedient and humble servant,
- JAMES C. PREVOST.”
It will be seen that in this letter the British commissioner did not adopt the lucid argument stated by Lord Clarendon in his instructions of the 20th December, 1856, but founded his opinions (as he was justified in doing, and, indeed, bound to do) upon a careful consideration of the wording of the treaty.
On the 2nd November, 1857, the United States commissioner, then encamped at Simiahmoo, replied as follows:(1)—
“SIR, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 28th ultimo, embodying your views in relation to the determination of the water boundary between the United States and the British possessions, as described in the first article of the treaty of June 15th, 1816 ; and, in compliance with your request, I herewith communicate my views on the subject for your consideration.
“ The following is the description of the whole boundary line, that part of it relating to the water boundary being underscored :
“From the point of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, where the boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions terminates, the line of boundary between the territories of the United States and those of Her Britannic Majesty shall be continued westward along the said forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to 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; provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the said channel and straits south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude remain free and open to both parties.'
" It was conceded on both sides, in our recent discussions, that there would be no difficulty in tracing the boundary line through the Gulf of Georgia and the Straits of Fuca (the northern and southern extremities of the line between the forty-ninth parallel and the Pacific Ocean); but as there are several navigable channels connecting their waters, a question
(1) American State Papers, p. 11.
arose as to which of these was the channel intended by the treaty. These channels are caused by a cluster of islands, and are of various dimensions. Among them, however, one is found pre-eminent as to width, depth, and volume of water, and in every respect satisfying the requirements of the treaty. This channel has been known since its first discovery as the Canal de Haro, and was the only one usually designated by name on the maps in use at the time the treaty was under consideration. While the other channels only separate the islands in the group from each other, the Canal de Haro, for a considerable distance north of the Straits of Fuca, and where their waters unite, washes the shore of Vancouver's Island, and is, therefore, the only one which, according to the language of the treaty, separates the continent from Vancouver's Island
“ The objection raised that for a short distance it would not carry the boundary line in a southerly direction, and thus fails to meet one of the requirements of the treaty, I think will apply with equal force to the Gulf of Georgia, if the term southerly is to be construed in a strictly nautical or · technical sense, and with still greater force to the Straits of
Fuca, which, for the greater part of its course, runs northwesterly ; for the language of the treaty, thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca Straits to the Pacific Ocean, the direction applies throughout the whole extent of line. If objection is made on this ground, the treaty will be nullified, and cannot be carried into effect. It is quite evident, however, that the term southerly' is to be understood only in its common and general sense. It is undoubtedly used here in apposition to northerly, and simply to show that Vancouver's Island is to be left on the British instead of the American side of the line, for it can hardly be supposed that the framers of the treaty would have ventured, with the general maps before them, to decide upon the whole course of the line, except in the most general terms. The impracticability of applying the same test to the Straits of Fuca, clearly shows in what sense the term is to be understood.