In the year 2020, of the reign of Elizabeth II, Queen of England and Canada, we Isabel, commander of a detachment (comprising my various selves) sent by whatever powers-that-be to do whatever-it-is that these selves do, have buried this Piece of Paper at the intersection of Solera Circle and Dunston Terrace this 11th day of June, near Hunt Club Drive, otherwise Irritatingly Overloaded Arterial Road…
as a monument of the renewal of the possession we have taken of said Arterial Road and of all which connect to it, and of all the lands on both sides as far as the sources of the said roads, as enjoyed or ought to have been enjoyed by the queens of England and Canada preceding and as they have there maintained themselves by arms and by treaties, especially those of Cahill, Albion, and Bank.
So there. Don’t say I didn’t give you fair, albeit slightly obscure, notice. This land is no longer your land, it’s my land. Well, mine and the Queen’s. They’re gonna have to make a new video.
I was inspired by some guy named Céloron who, 271 years ago, buried a plate of lead (I beg your pardon, a Plate of Lead) with the rough equivalent of my proclamation inscribed on it. His purpose? To claim a whack of New-World territory for France.
In the year 1749, of the reign of Louis the 15th, King of France, we Céloron, commander of a detachment sent by Monsieur the Marquis de la Galissoniere, Governor General of New France, to reestablish tranquility in some Indian villages of these cantons, have buried this Plate of Lead at the confluence of the Ohio and the Chataqua, this 29th day of July, near the river Ohio, otherwise Belle Riviere, as a monument of the renewal of the possession we have taken of said river Ohio and of all those which empty into it, and of all the lands on both sides as far as the sources of the said rivers, as enjoyed or ought to have been enjoyed by the kings of France preceding and as they have there maintained themselves by arms and by treaties, especially those of Ryswick, Utrecht and Aix la Chapelle. – Pierre-Joseph de Céloron de Blainville (translated by Orsamus Holmes Marshall, 1877; quoted in “The Men Who United the States”, by Simon Winchester)
I figure if it worked for Céloron, maybe it would work for me. Regrettably, it did not — for me or for him, turns out.
Plus ça change,
plus c’est la même chose.
Even back in the day this sort of grandiose proclamation was ineffectual. No self-respecting English settler cared whether some guy buried a Plate of Lead claiming the land they were living on, unless he showed up with an army.
No, the question of possession and enjoyment of the land would all be settled by arms — the French and Indian War, or the Seven Years’ War, depending on the geographical scope of your perspective — and, eventually, by treaties.
As for this day, I can’t imagine any self-respecting Ottawan caring whether I bury anything claiming the land they’re living on. Tough luck on the Queen, who enjoyed or ought to have enjoyed these lands, but I suppose she’ll cope.