Many writers have presented Joseph Elzéar Bernier (1852-1934) as a hero whose key role in establishing Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic islands was unjustly downplayed by the government he served. According to this view, the sector claim that Bernier made on 1 July 1909 is the true foundation of Canada's title to the archipelago. This article draws on government files to assess civil servants' attitude to his sovereignty-related activities. It also describes the role played by James White, whose more sophisticated and effective sector concept predated Bernier's and served as the basis for the official sector claim made in June 1925. The evidence indicates that government officials in the 1920s were well justified in their doubts about Bernier's pretensions. However, even though they rejected his version of the sector theory and resented the campaign of self-glorification on which he embarked after his retirement, their personal relations with him were good, and they took considerable trouble to ensure what they considered to be an appropriate degree of recognition for him. The article therefore clarifies the differences between Bernier's rhetoric and reality, particularly with regard to the sector principle.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0032247413000466
Journal Polar Record
Citation
Cavell, J. (2014). Sector claims and counter-claims: Joseph Elzéar Bernier, the Canadian government, and Arctic sovereignty, 1898-1934. Polar Record (Vol. 50, pp. 293–310). doi:10.1017/S0032247413000466