National Geographic : 1899 Nov
THE ALASKAN BOUNDARY States and Canada. Soon after the commission met at Quebec on August 23, 1898, it was made known for the first time that the British government would claim that the boundary line should run from the extremity of Prince of Wales island, along the passage known on modern maps as Pearse canal, to the head of Portland canal, thence directly to the coast, and follow the nearest mountains to the coast, crossing all the inlets of the sea, up to Mount St Elias. Such a line would give the United States a strip of an average width of less than five miles, broken at short intervals by the arms of the sea, and would transfer the greater portion of all the inlets to British territory (see map No. 12). As the Canadian government, with the consent of the British Foreign Office, has made public the protocol or official journal of the Joint High Commission, showing the result of its deliberations on the boundary,* I violate no diplomatic propriety in referring to these facts. The protocol shows that, after sessions of several months, the commissioners were unable to agree. In a failure of concur rence as to the language of the treaty of 1825, one of the two meth ods of adjustment was proposed by the British commissioners. The first was a conventional boundary, by which Canada should receive, by cession or perpetual grant, Pyramid harbor, on Lynn canal, and a strip of land connecting it with Canadian territory to the northwest, and the remaining boundary line to be drawn in the main conformable to the contention of the United States. The American commissioners, not being prepared to accept this proposition, the alternative was submitted by the British com missioners of an arbitration of the whole territory in dispute, in conformity with the terms of the Venezuelan arbitration, and in response to an inquiry from their American colleagues whether the selection of an umpire from the American continent would be considered, the British commissioners replied that they would regard such a selection as most objectionable. The American commissioners declined the British plan of arbitration, and stated that there was no analogy between the present controversy and the Venezuelan dispute; that in the latter case the occupation of the territory in question had from the beginning been followed by the constant and repeated pro tests and objections of Venezuela, and the controversy was one of long standing; but that in the case of the Alaskan territory * Fourth session, 8th Parliament, 62 Victoria, 1899. Protocol No. LXIII of the Joint High Commission, Washington, respecting the boundary between Alaska and Canada. Printed by order of Parliament, Ottawa, 1899.