'As far as 90 north': Joseph Elzéar Bernier's 1907 and 1909 sovereignty claims
Joseph Elzéar Bernier's well known sector claim of 1 July 1909 was predated by a similar, but until now unknown, proclamation in 1907. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, although eager to assert Canadian sovereignty, was unwilling to countenance the first claim because he did not think that the right time for such a gesture had yet come. However, in 1909 Bernier's action was welcomed, but only as a convenient way to counter the widely publicised American claim made by Robert Peary. In the eyes of government officials, neither of Bernier's proclamations held any real importance for Canada's northern sovereignty which rested primarily on the 1880 transfer of ownership from Britain. Bernier believed that his achievements had never been sufficiently recognised, but in fact the problem was that he himself overrated their significance.