Mr. Olney to Sir Julian Pauncefote .

No. 225.]

Excellency: Representations have been made to this Government that the department of marine and fisheries of Canada is taking steps to secure evidence as to the channel in the Lake of the Woods around Oak Island with the alleged intention of claiming that that island is within the territorial jurisdiction of the Dominion.

The ownership of the island in question has been conventionally determined.

It is only necessary to invite your attention to the following stipulations:

The seventh article of the treaty of Ghent, December 24, 1814, relating to the boundary between the United States and the North American possessions of Great Britain, agrees that commissioners, duly appointed, shall be authorized to “decide to which of the two parties the several islands lying in the lakes, water communications, and rivers forming the said boundary do respectively belong, in conformity with the true intent of said treaty of peace of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three; and to cause such parts of the said boundary as require it to be surveyed and marked.”

Article II of the Webster-Ashburton treaty of August 9, 1842, in further specifying the line of demarcation between the two countries, refers to the boundary in the Lake of the Woods as running from “that point in Lac la Pluie, or Rainy Lake, at the Chaudiere Falls, from which the commissioners traced the line to the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods.”

On the original signed map of the Lake of the Woods, prepared by these commissioners and upon which is traced the boundary line referred to in the treaty of 1842, Oak Island—being the island marked as No. 1 on the map—is designated as belonging to the United States. Its American character and occupancy have not admitted of any doubt, [Page 725] and the reported action of the Canadian authorities in extending their surveys to the westward of that island is therefore regarded as an intrusion upon the territory of the United States, which has naturally disquieted the occupants and occasioned their present remonstrance.

I have, therefore, the honor to request you to bring this matter to the attention of the Canadian authorities, with a view to avoiding any possible conflict between the citizens of the United States having interests on Oak Island and the Dominion officials, who, it is alleged, are seeking to establish territorial jurisdiction on this portion of the United States.

I have, etc.,

Richard Olney.