Does The Royal Proclamation of 1763 Apply to Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island?

By Robert Leavitt


After it was issued, the Proclamation (of 1763) was ignored by officials in the colony of Nova Scotia. Since Confederation, the courts have held mixed opinions about whether it applies to the Maritimes. In 1890, the New Brunswick Supreme Court ruled that it did not apply to an area that lay within the old boundary of the colony, but this opinion was reversed by the same court in 1958. In 1929, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that Cape Breton was not covered; yet the same court held in 1975 that the Proclamation applied to Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton, particularly in respect to Indian rights, but that it applied only to existing reserve lands.

In 1980, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that “it was the intention of the Proclamation to recognize the rights of Indians in all territory under British sovereignty in North America that had not been ceded to or purchased by the Crown..”

Some aboriginal leaders point out that the courts have repeatedly held that aboriginal title Read More
Does The Royal Proclamation of 1763 Apply to Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island?


By Robert Leavitt


After it was issued, the Proclamation (of 1763) was ignored by officials in the colony of Nova Scotia. Since Confederation, the courts have held mixed opinions about whether it applies to the Maritimes. In 1890, the New Brunswick Supreme Court ruled that it did not apply to an area that lay within the old boundary of the colony, but this opinion was reversed by the same court in 1958. In 1929, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that Cape Breton was not covered; yet the same court held in 1975 that the Proclamation applied to Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton, particularly in respect to Indian rights, but that it applied only to existing reserve lands.

In 1980, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that “it was the intention of the Proclamation to recognize the rights of Indians in all territory under British sovereignty in North America that had not been ceded to or purchased by the Crown..”

Some aboriginal leaders point out that the courts have repeatedly held that aboriginal title exists whether or not it is recognized by the Crown in a document or other statement. Other leaders, however, like Graydon Nicholas, believe that it is important to assert that the Proclamation does apply to the Maritimes. The Grand Council of the Micmac Nation takes the position that the Proclamation certainly applies to the Micmacs as a people, and therefore still protects their rights within their aboriginal territory.


- Robert M. Leavitt, Maliseet & Micmac: First Nations of the Maritimes. Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1995. p. 213

© Robert M. Leavitt. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Learners will understand the question posed about whether or not the Royal Proclamation of 1763 applies to aboriginals in all three Maritime provinces.

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