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OF FREQUENT OCCURRENCE IN THE TRADE AND NAVIGATION
OF THE RIVER AND GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE.
CONTAINING MATTER FOR REFERENCE PARTICULARLY UPON
BY THE VICE-ADMIRALTY COURTS.
GEORGE OKILL STUART, ESQ., Q.C.
Law Booksellers and Publishers.
SINCE the publication in 1858, of cases determined in the Court of Vice-Admiralty at Quebec, its jurisdiction, which had been extended by the statute 2 Will. IV. c. 51, was further enlarged by the Imperial Act, 26 Vict. c. 24. In the interval, between the year above-mentioned, and the present, these decisions, selected from a larger number, were rendered and are published as a Second Series.
The duties of Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Quebec were discharged by the late Mr. HENRY BLACK from the year 1836 until his death in 1873. His decisions to be found in this, as well as those composing a previous volume, are marked with the precision and accuracy, and are conspicuous for the sound judgment and legal learning which characterised the opinions of this eminent and distinguished advocate, and which, universally, carried conviction to the public and professional mind. The merit of his decisions in the Vice-Admiralty Court at Quebec may be inferred from the fact that, during the period of thirty-six years, his tenure of office, not one was either reversed or even modified in appeal.
An Admiralty jurisdiction in the Dominion of Canada concerns, very materially, the trade and
navigation, not only of the river and Gulf of St. Lawrence, but also that of the Great Western Lakes and the links connecting them with the tide waters. As laws are requisite to protect, improve, and extend this trade and navigation, so is an adequate and efficient maritime jurisdiction required to enforce them.
Under the Crown of France there appears to have been a Court of Admiralty established at Quebec with powers more extensive than ever claimed under the Crown of England. This jurisdiction was superseded, as well by the cession of Canada as by the express introduction of the Admiralty jurisdiction of England, by the commission to Sir JAMES MURRAY, dated the 19th March, 1764, since continued to successive Governors. The commission to the Judge at Quebec originally included Upper and Lower Canada, as forming the old Province of Quebec; but, at their severance, and upon their reunion, it was limited to the present Province of Quebec.
An opinion was entertained by eminent lawyers in the United States, that a maritime jurisdiction over the Western Lakes was inherent to the Courts of Admiralty of that country. Much learning and legal information upon this subject will be found in an opinion of the Supreme Court of Michigan appended to this volume. But all doubts in that country upon the subject were removed by an Act of Congress passed on the 26th of February, 1845,
by which the jurisdiction of the Admiralty Courts in the United States over them, was placed on the same footing as their jurisdiction over the high seas and tide waters. The Lakes are, in truth, inland seas, Canada borders on one side and a foreign country on the other. Upon them there is a most extensive trade as well between the two countries as between places in each, and they are now navigated by vessels to and from Europe. In this trade there are employed sailing and steam vessels, foreign and British, of very large size, and under circumstances of navigation differing, in no respect, as to its hazards and incidents, from the commerce of the ocean. The jealousy which once existed between the Admiralty Courts and those of common law has long ceased, insomuch, that by the Imperial Act, 3 & 4 Vict. c. 65, s. 6, the jurisdiction of the Admiralty in England has been extended to cases of maritime services, contracts, and torts in navigable waters, though arising within the body of a county and within the jurisdiction of the Courts of Common Law. The principal advantage of the Admiralty jurisdiction consists in the Courts having the power and the machinery of proceeding in rem. The Courts of the United States, on the south side the Lakes, possess the advantage of this remedy, while those of Canada, on the north, do not; so that a British ship, doing damage to an American vessel, may be attached in an American port, while an American ship, causing damage to a British vessel, is not subject to a similar process in a Dominion Court. Under these circumstances