The British Chargé (Chilton) to the Secretary of State

No. 670

Sir: At the request of His Excellency the Governor-General of Canada, I have the honour to draw your earnest attention to the difficulties encountered by the Government of the Yukon Territory in the matter of the importation of liquor into the Yukon Territory via the port of Skagway in United States Territory and the Yukon port of Whitehorse. The reason for these difficulties appears to be that the United States authorities consider that, under the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of the United States Treasury [Page 232] versus the Cunard Steamship Company74 the transportation of liquor across any territory of the United States is prohibited.

In the view of the Government of the Dominion of Canada liquor shipments for the Territory of the Yukon Government cannot be considered to be analogous either to in-transit shipments across American Territory from Canada to Mexico or to liquor on board a vessel intended for consumption thereon. Shipments of liquor for the Yukon Territory appear rather to imply a question of principle similar to that of shipments through the Panama Canal zone, which latter were by Congress specially exempted from the operation of the United States prohibition laws.

I would further draw your attention to the fact that under the provisions of Article 26 of the Treaty of Washington75 the Government of Canada possesses the right to transport liquor into the Yukon Territory via the Yukon River. In view of this treaty right the Government of Canada find it difficult to understand why the United States Government should be unwilling to take such steps as may be necessary to authorize the shipment of liquor via Skagway which affords a more convenient and less expensive route.

In these circumstances and having regard to the fact that such liquor is imported and dispensed exclusively by the Government of the Yukon Territory, and to the treaty rights of the Government of Canada in this question, I have the honour to ask your good offices with the competent authorities of the United States Government and I trust that they may see their way to take immediate steps to regulate this matter in the sense desired by the Dominion Government.

In view of the short season of navigation in the Far North West I would draw your attention to the importance of this question being settled at the earliest possible moment and I have the honour to request the favour of an early reply.

I have [etc.]

H. G. Chilton
  1. i. e., Cunard S. S. Co. v. Mellon; 262 U. S. 100.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1871, p. 516.