History Of Fortune Bay, St. Peters, Etc.
( Originally Published 1878 )
FORTUNE BAY in 1845, contained a population of upwards of 5,000, and returned one member to the General Assembly. There were 229 acres of land in cultivation; 360 head of cattle, and 5 horses. The number of large fishing boats was 1,341.
The population of Harbour Briton and Jersey Harbour, is about 500, which towns are the seats of two very large and flourishingmercantile establishments; the latter place might be more properly regarded as a branch of Harbour Briton, rather than a distinct harbour. The house of Philip Nicoll, jun., at Jersey Harbour, had been in existence about a hunched years. There were several partners connected with it, comprising some of the most influential men in the Island of Jersey. The principal of the establishment was Chief Justice of the Island of Jersey. It is said Sir William Gossett, late Serjeant-at-arms in the House of Commons, was also a partner. There were two other establishments belonging to this firm on the west-coast at Bargea and La Poile. The agent of this large and respectable establishment at Jersey Harbour in 1856, was John Chapman, Esq., an Englishman, who came to Newfoundland a poor boy, an apprentice to a fisherman ; but by perseverance, honesty and industry, he rose to be the head of one of the largest mercantile establishments in Newfoundland. His successor was Clement Mallett, Esq., a Jerseyrnan. The House of Newman & Co., at Harbour Briton, is one of the oldest and wealthiest in Newfoundland. One of the partners, Mr. Hunt, was a Director of the Bank of England. Messrs. Newman & Co., had four establishments in Newfoundland, viz :--St. John's, Harbour Briton, Burgea and Gaultois. The St. John's branch has been closed ; Sir Robert Newman was the principal. At Gaultois, the whale fishery was carried on to some extent. Newman & Co. employed two vessels and eight whale-boats. They have the necessary apparatus for manufacturing the whale oil. The number of whales annually captured was between forty and fifty. The quantity of whale oil manufactured by this firm in 1830 and 1834, was about 200 tuns. In 1857, the quantity was not more than 50 tuns. The harpoon gun is generally used. The species of whales taken are the Hump Back and Sulphur Bottom. The latter yield from 4 to 12 tuns of oil, but are seldom taken ; the former are more abundant, and yield from two to five tuns.
The New Bedford Mercury says :-
" We had an opportunity on Saturday to witness some interesting experiments performed under the direction of Mr. C. A. Heineken, an intelligent merchant of Bremen, Germany, now on a visit in this city, illustrating the effect of electricity to facilitate the capture of the whale. The subject was first brought to the notice of Mr. Heineken by the discourses of Dr. Somersburg, Professor of Natural History, and Mr. Ruckstan, in Bremen, as presenting important advantages over the mode hitherto employed in the whale fishery. The most prominent features of the new mode proposed, may be briefly enumerated as follows :
The electricity is conveyed to the body of the whale from an electro-galvanic battery, contained in the boat, by means of a metallic wire attached to the harpoon, and so arranged as to reconduct the electric current from the whale through the sea to the machine. The machine itself is simple and compact in construction, enclosed in a strong chest weighing about 350 pounds, and occupying a space in the boat of about three and a half feet long by two feet in width and the same in height. It is capable of throwing into the body of the whale eight tremendous strokes of electricity in a second, or 950 strokes in a minute paralyzing, in an instant, the muscles of the whale, and depriving it of all power of motion, if not actually of life.
" That every whale at the moment of being struck with the harpoon is rendered powerless, as by a stroke of lightning, and therefore his subsequent escape or loss, except by sinking, is wholly impracticable; and the process of lancing and securing him is entirely unattended with danger. The arduous labour involved in a long chase in the capture of the whale is superseded, and consequently the inconvenience and danger of the boats losing sight of or becoming separated from the ship, is avoided. One or two boats only would be required to be lowered at a time, and therefore a less number both of officers and seamen than heretofore employed, would be ample for the purpose of the voyage.
"Mr. Heineken, although not at first inclined to place much reliance upon the proposed advantages to be derived from this discovery, has subsequently become in a great measure a convert to the theory, and at the urgent solicitation of practical whalemen in his employ from the port of Bremen, has recently placed the apparatus on board of two whaleships in which he is interested as owner, from that port. He is desirous of submitting the subject of the discovery to the consideration of practical whalemen and others in this city, with a view of procuring further tests of its efficiency."
It appears from evidence given by Henry Butler, before a committee of the House of Assembly, in 1840, that the whale fishery was carried on by the Americans to a great extent in Hermitage Bay, Bay of Despair, and Fortune Bay, during the years 1796, 1797, 1798, and 1799 ; that during the three first years, twelve vessels were employed by them, manned by fifteen men each ; that all of the vessels returned nearly loaded ; that they carried on the whale fishery in this part of the country until about the year 1807, when it was discontinued, owing to some dispute arising between Great Britain and the United States; that three years after this a schooner was fitted out by the Americans, which arrived at Burin, but on account of a man-of-war being stationed there, the schooner proceeded to St. Mary's Bay, where she remained until the month of August, and had nearly completed her load when she was taken by a British sloop-of-war, and ordered to St. John's ; but the crew being too strong for the prize-master, the schooner shaped her course for America, and arrived in safety at Cape Cod. With this ended the American whale fishery on the western shores of Newfoundland. Mr. Butler stated that a whale fishery commenced in Hermitage Bay, under the firm of Peter Lemessuirer
Co., which continued for four years only, when the partnership dissolved ; that the natives of Hermitage Bay, having some idea of the fishery, began a whale fishery on a very small scale ; that a person of the naine of McDonald had made a large property by it ; that the house of Newman & Co. being aware of these proceedings, purchased the premises that had been Peter Lemessuirer & Co.'s, and began the whale fishery on a large scale. The manner in which these mercantile establishments were conducted, throws one back upon the olden times when Newfoundland was entirely under the dictum of the Mercantocracy or " Codfish Aristocracy." These establishments had their cook rooms, cooper's shop, sail loft, carpenter's shop, blacksmith's forge, &c. All the persons employed were sent from England and Jersey, and engaged for one, two, and three years. They were found in diet and sleeping apartments, and at the expiration of their term of servitude were sent home if they desired it. In traversing Fortune Bay the mind will revert to Ireland, " The mother of tears." Newfoundland has been chronicled on the historic pages of the country as the " Ireland of America."
First, on account of its being an island and about the same size; secondly, the adaptation of the soil to the growth of the potato; thirdly, the absence of venemous reptiles of every kind ; and lastly, on account of its population, half of which are essentially Irish. If, how ever, Fortune Bay is not much like Ireland owing to the few. Irish settled along its shores, yet it is more like Ireland than any other part of the island, on account of its rich absentees, for all the merchants of this bay are absentees living in England and Jersey, and their business here carried on through agents. These establishments, however, give importance to the bay, and are of considerable ad-vantage to the population in affording them facilities for obtaining a livelihood. The late agent of Newman & Co., Andrew Ellis, Esq., is a highly intelligent Englishman, now residing near London, Ontario. The agents of the mercantile establishments have been brought up in them from their boyhood, and have consequently imbibed those narrow and contracted views which have always been inculcated by the merchants of Newfoundland in days of yore. A compact was entered into between the houses of Newman & Co. and Nicoll, that they would not sell any article of merchandise to the dealers of their respective establishments, that is, Messrs. Nicoll would not sell an article to one who is accustomed to deal with Newman & Co., and vice versa, so neither would these establishments sell goods to persons who were accustomed to purchase in St. John's, or any other place. By this system of despotism, they managed to monopolize nearly the whole trade of the south-west coast. These establishments in 1848 prayed for license to the Government for the sale of spirituous liquors. The miserable supplying system gives great power and influence to the merchants of Newfoundland it makes him a despot and the poor fisherman a vassal.
One man, a supplying merchant, who knows little, it may be, about anything excepting pounds, shillings and pence, will direct the actions of thousands in many instances, not one of his dealers will dare to exercise his own judgment upon matters that deeply concern his own welfare. There is not, and cannot be, a more baneful, soul-enslaving, despotic influence exerted in any country than the system of supplying on credit which pervades this country.
I have seen men waiting, watching, and scrutinizing the motions and features of their supplying merchants or his agent, that they might find him in a good humour, then hat in hand present themselves to ask for a barrel of flour, a few pounds of butter, or a few gallons of molasses. Even the former slaves and serfs of Russia were more to be envied than some of the poor down-trodden fishermen of Newfoundland, who are thus compelled to humble themselves before their fellow-man. The forme' are better clothed, better fed, and have less to do than he who, it may be, has a family more or less numerous to provide for, and who, after toiling and sweating and enduring the hardest bitings of wind and weather, finds that all his voyage will not pay his account and lay in his winter's stock of provisions. The ocean is, in a great measure, the home of the Newfoundland fisherman.
The Rev. Mr. Brewster, Wesleyan, says :
" It is the fishermen, the hardy, storm-beaten fishermen, who have cause, if cause there really be, to complain. His life is daily exposed, above the ordinary and common exposure, to danger and death. Ile draws his means of subsistence from the very gulph of death. His wife and children, in eating the bread he has earned, feel something as David felt when his three mighty men cut through the host of the Philistines and drew him water from the well of Bethlehem. He said, ' My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing : Shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy ? for with jeopardy of their lives they brought it.' 1 Chron., 11 : 19. The fisherman prepares his gear, and early in the morning he leaves his family and home, and commits himself to the God of providence as he hoists the sails. The morning he and his companions bid us farewell, is fair and beautiful. They expect to leave us for a few days at least, and we bid them God speed, and stand idling a minute or two on the beach to see them sail away, remarking, ` What a fine time away they have !' The (lay passes, the night comes, and with it signs of gathering storms. A swift passing cloud and howling blast come like heralds of an approaching foe. The howling wind increases in strength, and the night is darker. But the fisherman's wife is not yet alarmed. A dreadful blast now strikes the cabin and every timber shakes. 'Children,' she remarks, C father will have to lie to to-night, he will not be able to fish,' and this with great calmness. But hark ! A deep hollow noise is heard. 'Tis not thunder ; nor ' the sound of abundance of rain,' as ' The rattling showers rise on the blast.'
What noise is that ? 'Tis the first growl of old ocean who is at length roused from his slumbering calm. Those hollow blasts which swept singly and swiftly along at first were messengers from the vast body of ' waters above the firmament ; ' and that distant roar, booming in a thousand caves, spoke of the operation of a law by which the two mighty bodies sympathize and move in unison. How speedily a clap of thunder followed ! As if each wing of the two invincible hosts fired royal salutes on their meeting. Hark, again ! Oh, another booming sound from the sea ! Now look at the fisherman's wife. Fear takes hold upon her. Perhaps at that moment a little one has been awoke from his sleep by the thunder, and he calls out ' Father.' She goes and takes him up, ' Thy father is gone child, and if God be not very merciful this night thou wilt see him no more.' She kneels ; her children are around her on their knees. Now the fierce elements rage. She hastens with her child to a neigh bour's house. Other alarmed and terrified mothers are there, equally anxious for the fate of them they love. All night the storm rages, and if for a moment the watcher is overcome with anxiety and fatigue as to sleep a moment, in her visions she sees her loved sons and husband struggling in the storm, or on a broken spar, or hears the last call to God for help. Morning comes, the day passes, yet the storm rages as if it would ' Confound and swallow navigation up.'
But they come not. At length a solitary boat is seen ploughing its way round the breakers, another follows, and soon they drop their anchor secure once more. She hastens down with others to enquire the likelihood of the fate of those they have left behind. Encouragement is held out ; and she returns. The night again passes, and morning comes, and the calm after the storm. Yet they come not. ' Perhaps he has sheltered in some harbour.' Hope buoys her up ; the week passes, and yet they come not, and then the overwhelming conviction strikes her to the ground—' THEY ARE LOST !' Who supports the widow ? Who provides for the fatherless babes ? He who has said ' Leave thy fatherless children, and 1 will preserve them alive ; and let thy widows trust in Me.' Our colonial government is most humane in its character, and its efforts to relieve the destitute are most prompt and ample. Such a faint picture as the above, leads you to the chief cause of Newfoundland's misfortunes. 'Tis not its climate, the healthiest in the world ; 'tis not the barrenness of its soil, for the ' treasures of the deep ' greatly compensate. It is the risk and exposure of. its ocean sons to daily danger and premature death. Perhaps the words of England's greatest bard would be too strong an application to the above :-- because when we consider this daily exposure the wonder is we have not more shipwrecks and loss of crews. Our bays and harbours are commodious and safe. But it is astonishing with what a fearless and reckless spirit our fishermen launch out in-to the deep. They often remind me of the sailor who in course of conversation was asked by a gentleman, ' Where did you; father die ? ' ' At sea.' " And where did your grandfather die ? ' ' At sea.' ' Then are you not afraid of going to sea ? ' ' No,' said Jack. ' Pray where did your father die ? ' ' In bed,' said the gentleman. ' And where did your grandfather die ? ' ' In bed.' " Then are you not afraid of going to bed ?' asked Jack. Such is the force of habit, and when, as in many instances, it is founded on faith in God, it enables the hardy fisherman to sing
' It a storm should come and awake the deep,
what matter? I still can ride and sleep.' "
The following is an extract of a letter which I addressed to the Hon. James Crowdy, the then Colonial Secretary, in 1846 : Dated Fortune Bay.
"The state of things which exists here, is subversive of that, independence of mind which every man ought to possess. In order to see the influence of the agents of the mercantile establishments, you must become a resident. Each is regarded as the sovereign in his own territory, and when you take into ac-count the manner in which these establishments are conducted, and the extreme ignorance of the mass of the people by which they are surrounded, the power of these men seems to be almost unbounded, added to which, is the power which the government has thrown into their hands."
The Rev. A. Gifford, clergyman of the Church of England, writes from Portugal Cove, in 1861 :
"It must be remembered that the great bulk of the population has arisen by very slow degrees under the auspices of a small knot of merchants, living in the capital, who have increased in number and wealth at their own centre, by successfully negotiating the common product of the people's labour in their country's only staple ; while the toiling fishermen themselves, scattered along the wild shores of their rock-bound coast, reap but a mean subsistence, without the prospect of having their lot sensibly affected by the prosperity of their employers. Though at the present day of this colony's long and tedious history, a few larger groupings of fishermen have resulted in communities of something like numerical importance, yet the original character of the colony as a fishing station, with St. John's as its head-quarters, is unchanged by those marks of advancement and civilization which are obvious in the progress of other countries. With the multiplication of fishermen, and the extension of the line of coast occupied by them, and even the increase of little settlements, there has been no introduction of that powerful element in human society, so beneficial in many of its workings the admixture of class. If we have an aristocracy in the merchants, they are local, and their influence rarely reaches even the nearest of the dwellings of their poor operatives ; while the want of any variety of resource in the country calls no middle class into existence ; and the prevailing poverty of the fishermen seems to forbid the hope of seeing more than one in a hundred rise from their ranks to supply the want. Trades-men there are but few out of the capital, and of shopkeepers, in the English sense of the word, still fewer ; the population getting not only 'provisions' in food, but most of the necessary manufactured articles, from the stores of the merchants against their account in fish. Shopkeepers, as a respectable class, are only now gaining ground in St. John's ; while almost the only attempt elsewhere takes the form of a petty barter trade, carried on between the more successful fisherman and his poorer neighbours, in which the illicit sale of ardent spirits forms the strong characteristic. Farmers and gardeners are at still greater premium perhaps I should not exaggerate if I were to say not more than five-and-twenty families in a circuit of ten miles round St John's, and not more than fifty or sixty in the whole island, being supported solely by agriculture. Add to these features of Newfoundland society a few more of the peculiarities of the trade of catching and curing fish, and of the winter life of the fisherman, and a type of British colonists, at once solitary in its kind, and alone in its isolation from the surrounding progress, is the result.
" Of such are the people of the settlements of this Mission, numbering over eight hundred Church members, not so many Roman Catholics, and a few Wesleyans."
The number of vessels which annually used to enter at the custom house at Harbour Briton was between 30 and 40, besides which there were a number of small coasting craft. The imports in 1847 amounted to about L28,000, or $140,000. The quantity of cod-fish yearly exported was about 70,000 quintals, and 140 tuns cod oil and whale oil, 800 cwt. salmon, besides furs, berries, &c., to a considerable amount. Fortune Bay paid to the colonial revenue at the same time £2,500 or $12,500.
The seal fishery had never been prosecuted from For-tune Bay until 184G, when one vessel returned with 1,000 seals. In 1848 Messrs. Newman & Co. sent two vessels, and P. Nicoll one vessel, to the seal fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which were successful. Cod-fish, turbot, hallibut, brett, &c., are to be caught here in almost every month throughout the year. Many boys from six to ten years old are employed in the fishery during the spring-and summer months, some of whom catch from 20 to 50 quintals of cod-fish. A few women also fish during the summer months, and not unfrequently catch from 20 to 30 quintals of fish. The hardships the men endure fishing during the winter months are very great. Many of them have the appearance of old men at thirty years of age. In Hermitage Bay, the fishermen have a novel way of securing the fish when it falls from the hook in drawing it into the boat. A clog is kept on board who is the daily companion of the fishermen, and is so well trained, that he immediately jumps into the water and secures the fish.
The winter fishery for the most part is prosecuted in punts or skiffs frequently you might see one man rowing cross-handed in a punt (and if the breeze is favourable his little sail assists him), until he is reduced by distance to a mere speck ; he is now several miles from land, when he lets go his grapnel, or more commonly his kellick, and commences fishing in from 80 to 120 fathoms of water, regardless of the keen frost and furious snow storm, while the spray from the motion of the boat falling on him is instantly converted into ice ; he still works his lines until the day is far spent and it is time for him to " haul up." All the fishermen I have conversed with informed me that they never suffer any cold except when there is no fish to be caught, but when there is any fish going they are as warm and comfortable as they wish, even in the frostiest weather. The quantity of fish caught per man for a year is from 80 to 180, and sometimes 200 quintals.
Fortune Bay abounds in herring of a fine quality, and which can be taken at all seasons, but are more abundant in the winter season. About 100,000 barrels are annually taken. Harbour Briton is the residence of several public functionaries. There is a stipendiary magistrate, who is also the custom-house officer ; a doctor, who is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, London ; a clergyman, and clerk of the peace.
The making of roads has given an impetus to agricultural pursuits hitherto unknown in this part of the island, and in some localities already has the spade garnished the face of the country and given it a new and inviting appearance. One great drawback, however, on the roads of this district, is the want of ferries, owing to the harbours and arms of the sea flowing such a distance into the country ; in some places it would be impracticable to travel round them, and in other places the walk round would be from twenty to fifty miles, but to cross in a ferry would be only from two to four miles. If, therefore, the Legislature would give a grant for the establishment of five or six ferry boats, it would render the roads of the district what they are intended to be a public benefit, Owing to its great distance from the capital, the inhabitants of this district are deprived of the advantages arising from the establishment of steam communication with the mother country frequently letters remain at the post-office in St. John's six months, and sometimes a year has elapsed before they are received here. If a grant was given by the Government for the establishment of a packet boat between Harbour Briton and St. Pierre, which is between thirty and forty miles distant, a regular mail communication would at once be opened between this bay and St. John's, via Halifax, and of course every other part of the world. The resident French population is not more than 4,000, yet they have a regular packet running between St. Pierre and Halifax, for carrying the mails, &c. A necessary appendage, however, to a mail communication between St. Pierre and Harbour Briton, would be a local post-office ; the letters and passengers, probably, would pay the expense of the packet, &c. I hope soon to hear of local post-offices being established in every district in the island this would be a great desideratum. In respect of postal communication, Newfoundland stands alone amid all the colonies of the British Empire in having but one post-office throughout the country.
At the head of Fortune Bay, during the winter season, herds of deer are seen, numbering many thousands sometimes two or three are killed at one shot. A party of ten or twelve persons kill from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty deer during the winter. I have seen the deer offered for sale at Harbour Briton at from one to two cents per pound.
Oats are cultivated in many parts of Fortune Bay, and these who have sowed small quantities of wheat have found it to ripen well. John Chrutt, at Belloram, when I was there, kept a number of cattle, made a considerable quantity of butter, and during the year 1846, manufactured nearly 300 cheese, weighing from four to ten pounds each; I have seen tobacco which grew in the garden of Newman & Co., at Harton Breton which was very good. At Frenchman's Cave, Stephen Chuett had a number of cattle and a small farm. At this place I saw what I observed in no other part of Newfoundland sea beaches extending about a mile into the woods ; these beaches have the appearance of three or four waves chasing each other towards the shore, and establishes the fact that Newfound-land is gradually rising out of the sea ; a remark frequently made by my friend St. John.
The following is an extract of a letter which I addressed to the Secretary of the Agricultural Society during the time of my visit to Fortune Bay in 1848, but which had reference to St. George's Bay, Bay of Islands, and the whole west coat, as well as Fortune Bay
On the western part of the country the deer congregate in almost incredible numbers, and as they are identical with the reindeer of Lapland, it is very probable that they could be naturalized, and might become of considerable importance, to formed by the decomposing or gradual wearing away of the neighbouring rocks, and as Mr. Juke's geological report don't embrace Fortune Bay, perhaps a passing notice of its geological structure may serve to show what kind of soil we might expect to find here."
On approaching Harbour Briton, which is situate on the north-west side of Fortune Bay, towering cliffs of sienite, some hundreds of feet in altitude, appear in all their wild sublimity, against which the ocean billows roll, wrapping their base in sheets of spray and foam. This primitive rock forms one of the heads at the entrance of the harbour, then comes coarse granite, against this mass of unstratified rock is seen resting limestone extending about a quarter of a mile, flanked by beautiful white granite, blocks of some of which are seen lying at the foot of the cliff as exactly suited for building as if dressed by the tools of masonry. The limestone is covered with a blooming vegetation, whereas the sienite presents a naked and withered appearance. Wherever limestone, soft sand-stone, marl, shale, and gritstone are found, we have the richest soil in Newfoundland ; and if a similar system of cultivation was pursued, and the same amount of capital employed as in Great Britain and Ireland, the land on the western part of Newfoundland would probably be as equally productive as in those countries. For we must remember, that while the various countries of Europe, year after year, were being upturned by the plough, and enriched with manure, until fifteen hundred years had rolled away, Newfoundland slept in its primeval state, untrodden by the foot of man, save the savage, and unknown to the civilized world.
At Lagona Harbour, on the Island of Lagona, situate at the entrance of Harbour Briton, is a very extensive and beautiful slate quarry.
Mr. Gordon 'had a small farm at Harbour Briton, on which he raised hay, oats, potatoes, and other vegetables. Dr. Clinton had also a small farm, and was quite a practical farmer. In 1849 Newman & Co. commenced the cultivation of a large tract of land at the head of Harbour Briton arm. Hay, potatoes, and wheat were planted, but I have not been informed of the produce. Near Newman & Co.'s brick store, in the middle of the road, a stamp of the foot produces the finest echo I ever heard. Of course the weather and the time of day have a great influence on an echo, dull weather deadens the sound, and sunshine renders the air thin ; the finest echo is produced on a dewy night. Echo has been personified by the poets and turned into many a fictitious tale. The most populous place in Fortune Bay is Grand Bank, situated on the south side of the bay, although not in the electoral district of Fortune Bay, it being annexed to the district of Burin.
It affords no security for shipping, the entrance being barred ; small vessels, however, drawing from six to eight feet of water, can pass over the bar at high tides. To the westward of Grand Bank is Ship Cove, where there is good anchorage for shipping in eight or ten fathoms water, sheltered from the south, west, and north-westerly winds. Men-o'-war and other large craft always anchor there.
Grand Banks derives its naine from the circumstance of its having the appearance of a beautiful green bank. It has been inhabited about 180 years. Mr. Jonathan Hickman, the oldest inhabitant, died in 1848, at the advanced age of 100 years. He piloted the celebrated Captain Cooke along this part of the coast during the time he surveyed the coast of Newfoundland 100 years ago. Formerly Wm. Evans, Esq., the late stipendiary magistrate, carried on mercantile business to a considerable extent here ; but owing to the want of a harbour for shipping, he was obliged to send his vessels to load at St. Jacques, on the opposite side of the bay. A mercantile establishment is still carried on here by Edward Evans & Co., sons of Mr. Evans, one of whom is in the commission of the peace, and the other a member of the House of Assembly. Agriculture is more extensively pursued at Grand Bank than in any other part of Fortune Bay. Some individuals keep from 20 to 30 head of cattle. About 10 cwt. of but-ter is manufactured annually here. There is a stipendiary magistrate, a constable, a lock-up house ; a doctor also resides here, and a Wesleyan missionary. There is only one place of worship, which is Wesleyan. There is one school under the direction of the Wesleyan, and a small annual grant is given by the Government in aid of its support.
According to the returns made to the Government in 1844, the population of Grand Bank was 392 ; acres of land in possession, 123i ; barrels of potatoes raised, 1,308 ; tons of hay, 102 ; neat cattle, 127, all bred in the island ; sheep, 53 ; pigs, 54 ; horses, 1. Number of schooners, 4 ; fishing boats from 4 to 15 quintals, 22 ; from 15 to 30 quintals, 18 ; 30 quintals and upwards, 21. Fortune is about four miles distant from Grand Bank, and is a place of considerable importance.
At a meeting of the Newfoundland Methodist Missionary Society, held at the Rev. S. Bushby's house at Carbonear, the 15th of January, 1816, John Gosse, Esq., in the chair, it was resolved
" That this Meeting having heard that there were about 5,000 inhabitants in Fortune Bay, nearly all Protestants, who are now, and ever have been, without a minister or preacher of any denomination, it is the wish of this meeting that a missionary should be sent there early in ensuing spring."
The first Wesleyan minister appointed to the place was the Rev. Dr. Richard Knight, in the year 1816, after-wards chairman of the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Districts for twenty-four years, and county delegate of the Methodist Conference for Eastern British America. The next person who succeeded Mr. Knight was the Rev. John Haigh. The following is an extract of a letter from Mr. Haigh to the Missionary Committee in London, dated Green Bank, July 19th, 1819.
" There is one thing in this country which militates much against the work of God generally, but it extends more particularly to this part of it ; that is, the fishery. With us it commences much sooner, and continues much later than in the northern parts of the country, and consequently the people are much longer from home. We have what is termed the spring fishery, which commences in the latter part of March, or the beginning of April, in which they are away for the space of seven or eight weeks before they go to sea to the northward ; and we have the fall fishery, which is for about the same space of time, and does not close till near Christmas, so that we have the fisherman at home but for the space of three or four months in the year ; besides their occasional visits with fish, and to take a fresh stock of provisions and salt ; so that if any impressions are made upon their minds during the winter recess, unless they are deeply implanted, they wear away ; for having no means of grace, and perhaps exposed to much bad company, their convictions are liable to die away, and they relapse into their former state of carelessness. But the principal cause arises from the removal of many to England ; there are several, who I believe, have received good to their souls, who, when they have experienced it have removed to England, where they could enjoy greater privileges ; three removed from this place last fall, so that if our usefulness does not as fully appear now, we hope that it will be found in the last day, that the labours of your Missionaries have not been unsuccessful.
There are two or three places across the Bay which I occasionally visit, three or four times a year, and remain two or three weeks, where the merchants' looms are established ; Harbour Briton, Jersey Harbour, and Little Bay ; but my labours being only occasional, they are regulated according to the thon existing circumstances ; so that I can give you no regular plan ; and while here, we have an opportunity sometimes of preaching to many persons who come from more distant parts, either for provision or for the purpose of settling their accounts ; so that many, who would not otherwise have an opportunity, hear the gospel preached. I have it in contemplation to pay a visit to Hermitage Bay, a place where I suppose no gospel minister ever yet visited."
From the year 1816, Grand Bank has been regularly supplied with a Wesleyan Minister, who frequently visited the various destitute parts of Fortune Bay and Hermitage Bay. I shall, therefore, make a few extracts from letters written by them to the Wesleyan Missionary Society in London, which will show the moral condition of the part of the island at the time referred to. In 1827, the Rev. Mr. Noall says:-
" On my return to Gaultois, I found Captain Michell, (as he calls himself), the Chief of the gang of Indians from White-Bear-Bay. On seeing me he instantly dropped on one knee, putting his right hand to his head. He was a very tall man, and looked the savage if provoked. He addressed me in most vociferating language, and gave me to' understand that he considered himself a Catholic. He said, ' I see minister, London,' (it appears he had been in England,) ' St. John's, Halifax ; you ministers and priest all one ; all same God Almighty.' Refer-ring to a circumstance that happened last Saturday night, he said, ' They dance two times, Saturday night, Sunday morning, that's bad ; Sunday night, God burn their stage : ' a circumstance by which property to the amount of 100L. was destroyed. In the evening I met Soolian again, and told him that Christ is now in heaven, and that, if he prayed to Him, He would make him a good heart and take him there, and then said, ' You tell them ; ' pointing to some young men standing by. He began talking to them in his own language, pressing his breast, and then pointing to the sky, as I had done, while one of the young Indians, in such an emphatic way as I shall never forget, expressed his mingled emotions of astonishment and pleasure. I am informed by those who know their habits well, that the Indians belonging to Bay Despair (of whom there are eighteen families, and about a hundred persons) are still under the bondage of the vilest habits ; very indolent and false in their dealings ; and there is too much reason to fear that they murder a great many of the Aborigines, or Red Indians, who inhabit the interior. After all, I think them an interesting race of men, and who, if they could be properly instructed, might emerge from that darkness in which they are now enveloped. At present they are only the dupes of those priests by whom they have been baptized, but never instructed. Al-though they are bound together by some social order, and have a sort of cantonment, or rather rendezvous in Bay-Despair, yet they enjoy very few of the comforts of civilized life. They spend the summer chiefly in the woods, procuring fur ; and, in the winter, from want of economy, have sometimes to endure the severity of hunger. It is impossible to calculate on the advantages that might follow, could their conversion be effected. It would at once open a religious intercourse between much greater numbers at White-Bear-Bay ; and is perhaps the only posssible way of gaining access to the Aborigines of this island, of whom, notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary, it appears great numbers still exist.
" There are some other places in this Bay (Hermitage Bay) which the inhabitants wish me to visit. Indeed, I received the most pressing invitations to remain among them much longer; but as I have now been so long from the people of my charge, and am expecting to make another little voyage to Lamilin, in Placentia Bay, soon after my return, I cannot possibly stay longer. There are about 100 persons in this Bay, altogether destitute of Christian ordinances."
Extract of a letter from the Rev. Adam Nightingale in 1829:
" Aug. 23rd (Sunday).—Today I preached two sermons at Lamalin, with considerable liberty. The people heard the word with deep attention. In the evening we had a profitable sea son in another house, where some were assembled. When I was at this place last spring, the people engaged to build a place in which they might worship God, and one person of respectability told me that he would give ten pounds every year while he lived towards supporting a missionary, should one be sent.
" Sept. 28th.—This day, Sir Thomas Cochrane, the governor of the island, came on shore at Grand Bank, accompanied with several gentlemen. After his Excellency had walked about the place, and asked several questions, he returned to his yacht, leaving only on shore the Rev. Mr. B., of Trinity. This gentleman preached in our chapel in the evening ; and said after-wards, that a clergyman would be sent shortly into the neighbourhood.
" Oct. 11th (Sunday).—I preached twice at Grand Bank, and met the society. In the evening I preached at Fortune, and met the society there, afterwards.
Nov. 4th.-This morning, about three o'clock, I left Grand Bank in a boat for Jersey Harbour, where I arrived in safety, and preached in the evening to a tolerable congregation. The next day I went to Harbour Briton, and preached in the evening to a large congregation.
" 6th.—My hearers this day were about seventy in number, and seemed remarkably attentive and serious. Surely my labour was not in vain.
" 7th.—This morning I left Harbour Briton, with several men, for Gaultois, in Hermitage Bay, where I safely arrived, and was very kindly received by Mr. Creed. I preached in the evening in a store, on the constraining love of Christ, our great Master. My congregation, which consisted of fifty men, heard with marked attention the word of God, with the exception of a poor drunken Englishman, who is the father of fifteen children, and whose age is about sixty. Several Romanists were present ; and one sailor was convinced of sin on the occasion.
" 8th. —This day I preached there times to good congregations. The people seemed to hear for eternity. 0 that the seed sown here may bring forth, some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred fold ! The next day I went in a boat to Round Harbour, according to request, where I preached to about thirty persons, some of whom, I believe, never heard a sermon before. The people were exceedingly glad of the opportunity, even those who had come several miles, to hear the. word of life. I baptized one child. After this we spent several hours in a very profitable way, some of the company seemed determined to seek the salvation of their souls. The Lord be praised for his goodness to poor sinners !
" 10th.—This morning I was rowed to Pickheart Harbour where there are five families living. After preaching to about twenty persons, who gave great attention to the word, I baptized four children. This is the first time that this place was ever visited by a Christian Missionary. I then returned in a boat to Gaultois, and from thence to Forbes' Cove, where I preached from ' God be merciful to me a sinner.' The number assembled on the occasion was about sixty ; some of whom, I trust, will not soon forget this opportunity. I visited a sick man, who, I was told, is the only person in the place that could read. The number of persons who live here is about one hundred. The moon shone very bright when we returned to Gaultois, but O, how unlike the state of the people in this bay ! Lord, enlighten and save them, that they may shine !
" 11th.-This morning I was taken across the bay to Hermitage Cove, where there are about a hundred and forty souls.
13th.-Today I preached at Great Habour, in Conainer Bay, and baptized two children. I then left in a boat for the east side of the Bay, and before night, through the good hand of God, though the walking was bad, we reached Harbour Briton in safety. But with respect to Hermitage Bay, permit me to observe that many of the people were truly thankful for the privilege of hearing the Gospel in my visit to them. Their entreaties to stay longer, or come again, were affecting. Their cries for a missionary to teach them and their children the way of life, are strong. Some of the most respectable told me, that they would do everything in their power to support one. ' The harvest is great, but the labourers are few: "
In 1838, the Rev. John Addy says
" On the 22nd July, I left Grand Bank in a small boat, in order to visit several small harbours towards the east. Vo called at Little Barasway, and there found some adults who were living in a most ignorant and wretched state. I spoke to them on the necessity of personal religion, distributed several tracts, and prayed with them. We then proceeded to Grand Beach, where are two families, with whom 1 read the scriptures and prayed, and in sailed to Frenchman's Cove. I preached there in the evening to about twenty persons, from I. Pet. iii. 12. They were very attentive, and I trust profited by what they heard.
" On the 24th, I walked to Garnish, where I preached in the evening, and baptized two children.
" 25th.- I preached three times to attentive congregations. There are about forty adults at Garnish, and they and their children are in an ignorant and destitute condition, whole families not being able to read ; yet they feel their condition, and complained in the most affecting manner of their want of spiritual instruction, and of some person to teach their children. At neither of the two last harbours had they been visited by a Minister for three years. When I left them, they entreated me, with tears, to come again.
" 28th.-I left home for Harbour Briton, and was received with great courtesy by Mr. Ellis.
" On the 30th, I preached at Grole in a house full of people ; after which I read the funeral service over the remains of a young man, and while at the grave side I addressed the per-sons present, on the importance of preparing for death and judgment, and distributed tracts amongst them. I preached again in the evening.
"31st.-I preached this morning at eight o'clock to a crowded congregation, as many persons had come from various harbours to hear the word. I felt that God was with us. The congregation was much affected ; and after service, many expressed their sorrow at their destitution of religious ordinances. On my departure they earnestly entreated me to come again. On our way to Galtois, we called at a small harbour, where we found the people very ignorant. In one house, I found them all sitting in indifference, as though the hours of the sacred Sabbath had been a burden. On inquiry, I found that none of the inmates of one house at which I called could read ; and in another house that I entered, T asked the mother if she could read, and she answered, ' No.' I then asked her if she knew she was a sinner ; to which she replied in the negative. I interrogated her as to her responsibility to God ; to which she answered, she had never been instructed in those things. I then endeavoured to point out to her, in as simple a manner as I possibly could, the way of salvation. May the Lord enlighten her mind !
" August 2nd.-I proceeded westward of the bay ; and remained that evening at Long Island Harbour. There are eighteen adults here, who can all read, and they spend their Sabbaths in reading, prayer, and singing psalms. I preached and conversed on religious subjects until midnight. They requested me to preach in the morning, which I did, and they received the word with gladness.
" 4th.-This forenoon I arrived at Pasture, and preached to about forty persons, and afterwards baptized three children. On my departure, tears ran down the cheeks of the people, while they expressed their sorrow that they were not permitted more frequently to hear the word. We sailed to Round Harbour, and on our way, told a man who was fishing that we were going to hold divine service ; he put up a signal to his companions, who ceased fishing, and came to hear the word of life. After preaching, I baptized a child, and proceeded to Galtois, and preached twice. I preached in another harbour on Monday. In Hermitage Bay, there are upwards of six hundred inhabitants arrived at years of maturity in the most deplorable ignorance. They seldom hear the Gospel preached. I found in some harbours in this Bay that the inhabitants had not heard a sermon for nearly a year, and in others, not since the venerable Archdeacon Wix visited it, and others not at all, that they could remember. Here are hundreds perishing for lack of knowledge. They neither fold nor feeder have ; may God provide for them ! "
In addressing the Wesleyan !Methodist Auxiliary Missionary Society for Newfoundland, in 1840, the late Rev. William Marshall says :
During the past year, fifty-two harbours and coves have been visited ; in many of them the people are deeply sunk in ignorance, superstition and depravity. The Sabbath is awfully profaned drunkenness abounds in several places, and many of the settlers on this part of the coast were never before visited by any minister in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. Along the whole western shore, comprising an extent of many miles, there is a lamentable destitution of religious instruction not even a school of any description, except one at Hermitage Cove established by your missionary during the past year. There are harbours where there is not a single individual that can read at all, and where a copy of the sacred Scriptures cannot be found and these are Protestants, chiefly the descendants of English parents. The people generally manifest a great desire to be favoured with religious instruction ; they welcome the Missionary of the Cross among them, and count it an honour to receive him into their houses ; and though we cannot boast of having seen sinners converted to Christ, there is abundant reason to thank God and take courage. Much prejudice has been removed, and if breathless attention and tear-washed cheeks under the Word, be any evidence of the work of the Spirit on the mind, with these we have been favoured, and in one or two instances the agonizing inquiry has been heard—' Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?' It is truly affecting to listen to the requests of the people for missionaries ; their general inquiry on our leaving them is,—Oh, when shall we see another minister ? They are crying from every place like the men of Macedonia, come over and help us.
" Two visiting missionaries might be very usefully employed on this shore ; one for Hermitage Bay, where he could visit regularly thirty harbours, containing a population of 1700 souls; the second for Burgeo and Westward. From Burgeo he could visit regularly from eighteen to twenty-one places, containing a population of near 1,000 souls ; he might also during the summer visit Bay St. George and Bay of Islands, where there is a loud call for missionaries, and in every one of the places they would be gladly received."
Respecting the school at Hermitage Cove, Mr. Marshall also writes :
" The school was commenced in January last; there are 33 children who attend every Sabbath, and also on the week-days when the missionary is in the harbour- The improvement they make in learning is very satisfactory ; many of them who did not know a letter in the alphabet when the school was opened, are now able to read portions of the Holy Scripture, and have committed to memory the First Conference Catechisms, also several of our Hymns. We have reason to expect that this school will prove an extensive blessing to the rising generation in the neighbourhood. There is one person who assists in the school, and reads the Liturgy of the Church of England, with a sermon on the Sabbath, in the absence of the missionary."
During the year Mr. Marshall baptized 156 children and travelled near 2,000 miles. The Rev. Messrs. Peach and Ingham succeeded Mr. Marshall at Hermitage Bay, but owing to the scattered population and the want of funds, the Methodist Mission at this part of the country was discontinued until 1857, when the Rev. Mr. Comben was sent.
The Church of England at Harbour Grace was built in 1841. It is a neat wooden structure, 45 feet by 25, and will seat 250 people. It is the Cathedral Church of Fortune Bay, and is quite an ornament to the village in which it is situated. It was opened for divine worship in 1845, since which it has only been occasionally visited by a clergyman, until 1847. In the church is a beautiful marble font, presented by Thomas Newman, Esq., son of the late Robert Newman, Bart. The Right Rev. Edward Field, D.D., Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Newfoundland, has macle four visitations to the district of Fortune Bay. The first clergyman of the Church of England appointed to reside here was in 1837, who remained but a short time ; in 1841 another clergyman was appointed, who also remained but a few months. In June, 1847, the Rev. Mr. Appleby was appointed here, who was succeeded in the Autumn of the same year by the Rev. J. G. Mountain, M.A., who was the Rural Dean of the district ; and at that time the following clergymen were under his superintendence : At Harbour Briton, Rev. S. Aldington ; Belloram, Rev: John Marshall ; the Burgeos, Rev. J. Cunningham ; La Poèle, Rev. T. Appleby ; St. George's Bay, Rev. W. Meek. There were two schools in the district under the " Church of England School Society ; " besides which there were four colonial schools. In addressing the " Church of England School Society," and referring to this district, the Superintendent, Archdeacon Bridge says:
There are several settlements in Hermitage Bay, as Gaultois, Hermitage Cove, Furbey's Cove, with entirely church populations, but wholly destitute of schools. And further to the westward, along a line of coast 100 miles or more in ex-tent, and with a totally church population of about 2,000 souls, there is but one school maintained by the colony. I accompanied the Bishop last year in his visitation of these parts of the island, and I saw his Lordship entreated, with tears, to send among them good and pious men to teach them and their children. In submitting to you the above statement, I must observe, that it is not to be regarded as a full and detailed account of the wants of Newfoundland ; but for the reason I have given, I could, without the slightest colouring to dress up a case, draw a much sadder picture. Let me hope, however, that even this rough and hurried sketch may fix some Christian eyes upon it, and open some Christian hearts and hands to relieve its dark and gloomy shades with the light of a sound education in the blessed truths of the Gospel, ac-cording to the principles of the Church of England. According to the census of 1845, the number of Episcopalians, ex-tending from Garnish to Boone Bay, was 2,545, and from Boone Bay to Cape Ray, was 2,085, making a total of 4,640 for the district of Fortune Bay."
In 1854 a handsome brick church was erected in Her - mitage Bay, at the cost of T. A. Hunt, Esq., of the firm of Newman & Co. The Rev. W. K. White, who succeeded the Rev. Mr. Mountain, in 1855, at Harbour Briton, says :
" My cook-room school has begun famously ; I pray God it may go on well. A few of my old scholars are here this winter and they seem determined to have more order and discipline than I was able to effect last winter. I have seventeen in all. I took a Bible and wrote these words in it, ' For the use of the Cook-Room,' &c., desiring that it might always be at hand for family prayer and thus far it has been brought me at the conclusion of my lessons, and I have read a chapter and had family prayer.
" My Sunday evening class improves ; I had sixteen in the nursery last night."
Again, in 1856, Mr. White says :
" I found in some settlements, people living together unmarried, children not baptized, and the dead buried anywhere and anyhow. The constant excuse is, ` We see no minister, and therefore get some one who can read to baptize, and bury, and marry.' This is a deplorable state of things ; but I do not know how one clergyman could remedy it. If a regular system of visiting were established, there is no doubt the people would gladly avail themselves of the Missionary's services ; but I scarcely expect that they would as gladly pay all expenses. Neither do I believe that a married missionary, with a family, without private means, could visit them properly without debt and difficulty. As far as my visits are concerned, I cannot complain of the behaviour of the people. They seemed glad to see me, and readily attended the services."
In 1858, the Rev. E. Colley, who was stationed at Hermitage Cove, writes :-
" My evenings are spent in instructing fifteen young men in reading, writing, arithmetic and singing. At Grole, we had full service on Friday ; morning prayer, litany and holy communion, and I baptized two children. This is some proof that the people in this Bay value the services of the church. In the height of the fishery, at the call of their minister, they leave their lines, and nets and boats, and come to the House of Prayer. And in like manner, I have counted nearly every fine Sunday this summer, eight or nine skiff loads of persons coming into Harbour for the purpose of attending Morning Service at St. Saviour's, Hermitage Cove ; although the church is far from fit to receive them on account of the repairs which are going on. At present the congregation sit upon planks laid on fish-barrels."
" One of the families in this place, Cape la Hune, had recently a heavy affliction in the loss of their eldest son, a young man about twenty years old, from falling through the ice. The father and two sons were returning to their winter house in the bay, and had brought their punt to the edge of the ice. Having crosssed it the evening before, they concluded it was safe, but after taking a few steps forward the old man fell in, and the deceased endeavouring to save his father, fell in also ; and both would have been drowned but for the younger boy, who, luckily had not left the punt, and by means of a rope got his father out. In the meantime the elder had sunk to rise no more. I endeavoured, both in my conversation and in my discourse in the service, to lead them to the only true and solid source of comfort and support under their bereavement, and urged them to profit by the warning they had just received, lest death should come upon them unawares, as it did upon this young fellow, and find them unprepared."
The following is a copy of a letter which I addressed to a friend now in England, during my visit to Fortune Bay, in 1857 :
" The lone majesty of nature here predominates ; yet in the midst of this solitude there is a sublimity, for you can scarcely conceive of any thing more grand than the long range of lofty and precipitous cliffs immediately in front of where I live, whose tops are at this moment covered with snow, and where nought is heard to disturb the solitude save now and then the notes of the ptarmigan, while sometimes the timid hare might be seen bounding along the rugged steep ; all else is shrouded in primeval silence. But while I admire this sublimity of solitude, I feel pained when I think of the moral gloom which prevails the living death hundreds living without life, without light, and passing to the eternal world without the renewing and sanctifying influences of God's Spirit. The stillness of the Sabbath morning is frequently broken by the sound of the hatchet and the hammer, and many heads of families pursue their ordinary avocations on the Sabbath, as on any other day of the week, because, as they say, they have no time to do it on the week days.
` Hail Sabbath ! Thee I hail, the poor man's day, The pale mechanic now has time to breathe The morning air pure from the City's smoke, While wandering slowly up the river side, He meditates of Him whose power he marks
In each green tree, that proudly spreads the bough. As in the tiny dew, bent flowers that bloom, Around the roots ; and while he thus surveys With elevated joy each rural charm ;
He hopes (yet fears presumption in the hope)
To reach those realms where Sabbath never ends.'
The population of this place and Jersey Harbour (which is a branch of Harbour Breton) is about 500. A neat little church has been erected here through the exertions of the merchants and the magistrate ; it belongs to the Episcopalians ; they are expecting a minister, but no person has yet been appointed. When I first came here there was an ordained school-master, belonging to the ' Newfoundland School Society,' living at a place called Belloram, distant from this about thirty miles : he has since gone to England on account of ill health and no successor has yet been appointed to supply his place. There is also another ordained school-master, belonging to the same society, residing at Grole, in Hermitage Bay, about thirty miles distant from this place. The population of the electoral district of Fortune Bay is about 5,000 ; this does not include Grand Bank and Fortune ; which are on the opposite side of the Bay, and where a Wesleyan Mission has been established for many years. When I arrived here last May, seeing the spiritual destitution of the place, I immediately commenced holding religious service on the Sabbath and sometimes during the week evenings, in a private dwelling ; the congregation has been small, averaging from two to twenty, besides the family of the house, who are ten in number. There is a great scarcity of the word of God here ; I have, however, gratuitously supplied many families with this inestimable treasure. The Bible, then, is travelling in its solitary grandeur' in the ' far west' of Newfoundland, dissipating the clouds of darkness, and pouring a flood of light on its moral atmosphere. The Bible is the great moral light-house of the world, pouring refulgent corruscations on the surrounding gloom, the 'heaven-lent geography of the skies to man.' I am circulating tracts in every direction, aud many of these silent messengers of mercy are finding their way into gloomy solitudes, whose fastnesses never echoed with the sound of the gospel trumpet. Oh ! think of those who are living where there are no means of grace, where all is a moral wilderness. There are many harbours along the shores of this bay, where only from one to three families reside, who are entirely ignorant of spiritual things ; most of them are the children of English emigrants ; many of them remember hearing their parents speak of the parish church of the land of their fathers, with little more knowledge of a place of worship than this; and, when asked to what religion do you belong ? they reply the ' English religion,' meaning the Protestant. I am exerting myself for the benefit of sailors. On Monday evening, for the first time within the memory of man, was the Bethel flag seen at the main royal' mast of the St. George, fluttering in the breeze amid the hills of the western shores of Newfoundland, the well known signal for divine worship among sailors. Since I have received the flag, I have held two Bethel meetings, and sent two loan libraries to sea, each containing about 30 bound volumes, besides a number of tracts and magazines. Since my arrival here in May last, I have held 124 religious services afloat and on shore ; distributed 763 tracts (50 of which were French) ; 466 religious books ; 25 bibles ; and 42 testaments. I think great good might be done amongst the maritime population of this country, and that efforts might be made to establish a sailors' cause in St. John's. The moral claims of seamen are beginning to enlist the sympathies and efforts of all classes of the community in England. Of course you saw the account of Prince Albert's laying the foundation stone of the ' Sailors' Home' last summer, at Liverpool. And not long since Her Majesty transmitted a noble sum to aid the ' British and Foreign Sailors' Society' on behalf of the young Prince of Wales. The President of the British and Foreign Sailors' Society, the Right Honourable Lord Mountsandford, died in October last. It is rather remarkable that the first president of this society, Admiral Lord Gambier, was Governor of this island in the years 1802-3."
In 1848 the Right Rev. Dr. Mullock, Roman Catholic Bishop, visited Fortune Bay and the west coast, where he held several confirmations, and baptized a number of persons.
The Roman Catholics had no place of worship in the District of Fortune Bay at that time they talk, however, of erecting a chapel at Harbour Breton. A Catholic clergyman from Burin annually visited the District of Fortune Bay. According to the census of 1845, there were in Fortune Bay 4,640 Episcopalians. 392 Roman Catholics. 68 Wesleyans. 5,100 Total population.
Seventy Micmac and Mountaineer Indians reside in Bay Despair, they subsist by hunting during the winter ; they also spear eels and salmon, make hooks, &c. There are 4 Churches of England, 10 schools and 726 dwelling-houses.
According to the census in 1857, the population of Fortune Bay was as follows
In 1857. In 1874
2,787 Church of England 4,391
647 Church of Rome 1,387
30 Wesleyan 9
29 Other Denominations
3,493 Total 5,787 Total
Burgeo and La Poêle which belonged to the district—
In 1845 In 1874
3,172 Church of England 4,216
189 Church of Rome 125
282 Wesleyans 731
2 Kirk of Scotland 15
3,545 Total 5,087 Total
In the district of Fortune Bay there were 518 dwelling houses, 10 schools and 259 pupils, 3 Churches of England. 317 acres of land were cultivated, producing 254 tons of hay, 6,628 bushels of potatoes, and 75 bushels of turnips. Of live stock there were 344 neat cattle, 157 milch cows, 5 horses, 610 sheep, and 133 swine and goats. The quantity of butter manufactured was 1,570 pounds. The number of vessels engaged in the fisheries, 14 ; boats carrying from 4 to 30 quintals of green fish and upwards, 726 ; nets and seines, 1,542. Quantity of cured :—5S,454 quintals cod-fish, 91 tierces of salmon, 58,958 barrels of herring. Oil manufactured, 29,220 gallons.
The returns of Burgeo and La Poêle were 555 dwelling-houses, 5 schools and 197 pupils, 4 Churches of England and 1 Wesleyan. 161 acres of land were cultivated, producing annually 53 tons of hay, 4,590 bushels of potatoes, and 125 bushels of turnips. Of live stock there were 46 neat cattle, 31 milch cows, 2 horses, 74 sheep, and 6 swine and goats. The number of vessels engaged in the fisheries, 15 ; boats carrying from 4 to 30 quintals and upwards of green fish, 607 ; nets and seines, 1,717. Quintals of fish cured-67,833 of cod fish, 614 tierces of salmon, 31,077 barrels of herring. Gallons of oil manufactured, 33,866.
The Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon are situate at the entrance of Fortune Bay, seven miles from the main land. These islands were ceded to France by the treaty of Utrecht, and are the only possessions of the French in America. By the terms of the treaty they are not al-lowed to make any fortifications, nor to have more than fifty soldiers at a time.
St. Peter is a mass of unstratified rock of a reddish colour, mostly covered with a few shrubby fir and alder trees. A lighthouse was erected by the French Government in 1845. It is built on Galantry Head, near Cape Noir. It is a substantial edifice, built of brick, and cost 80,327 francs. The light is a fixed one, and burns at an elevation of about 210 feet above the level of the sea. It may be seen (in passing by the S.) from W.N.W. to N.N.E. at the distance of 25 miles in clear weather. In passing by the N., it is shut in by high land from N.N.E. to W.N.W. A small light is also situated on the Gun point within the Roads, at the entrance of St. Pierre's Harbour. St. Pierre is a place of considerable trade. According to the official returns made to the French Government in 1847, the population of St. Pierre was
The population of St. Peter's when the bankers are there is 10,000. The number of vessels fitted out for the Grand Banks and other banks is between 300 and 400, averaging from 50 to 300 tons. The quantity of cod-fish taken is estimated at 400,000 quintals. But this does not include the Northern French fishery on the north coast of Newfoundland.
Two Roman Catholic Churches (one of which is on Dog Island), two priests, four monks, nine nuns, and two schools. The population of Miquelon was 625. There was also one Roman Catholic Church, one priest, and two schools. Last year a very elegant hospital was erected at St. Pierre ; it is built of brick, and is the only good building on the island, save the lighthouse. It is 150 feet long and 60 feet broad. It has sixteen spacious rooms in it, besides a number of smaller ones. It will accommodate upwards of 100 sick persons. The Government House is a very plain old-fashioned wooden building, with a small garden surrounding it. All the houses that compose the town are built of wood, and, for the most part, small and ill-constructed. The streets are very narrow, short and dirty. Altogether the place has the appearance of a large fishing establishment. A Governor resides here, Commissary or Minister of Marine, harbour master, two doctors, and several other public functionaries ; there are also about thirty gensdarmes. A small armed brig, called the guard ship, is stationed at the entrance of the harbour. There are also three small armed schooners which occasionally visit the west coast. A sloop of war and also a schooner frequently call here. A sailing vessel is employed in carrying the mail once a fortnight between St. Pierre and Halifax.
The quantity of fish exported to Guadeloupe and Martinique, two of the French West India Islands, in the under-mentioned years, was as follows :
In 1840 56,954
At Miquelon and Langley there are a number of farms, where all kinds of vegetables are raised. There are a great number of cattle and sheep kept, from whence the market at St. Peter's is supplied. There was once a pas-sage for ships between Miquelon and Langley, which are now connected by low flat sands, for the most part covered with coarse grass, and which is the scene of a great number of shipwrecks, principally timber vessels from the St. Lawrence to England. The whole coast is frequently strewn with timber for a distance of three miles.
When I was at Sydney, C.B., in September, 1858, two French war steamers were plying from St. Peter's, carrying coals there, and making a depot of it for their men-of-war. St. Peter's is to the western part of the island what St. John's is to the northern part, viz., the great outlet or market for every production of the island. During the time of my visit to St. Peter's, I saw vessels there from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, the United States, and various parts of Europe. It is a most thriving place, and rapidly increasing in trade and population. The inhabitants of Fortune Bay and the south-west coast have for years been supplying St. Peter's with herring, caplin, and squids (used for bait in catching cod-fish), amounting in value annually to about $65,000, besides firewood, &c. The land of these islands is mostly composed of variegated slate rocks and reddish sandstone, seinite and goit stones. St. Pierre is about five miles long, and Miquelon and Langley about twenty miles long.
An English man-of-war is annually employed on the Newfoundland coast for the protection of the fisheries. Captain Bennett, of Her Majesty's Ship Rainbow, in addressing Captain Prescott (the then Governor), in 1S36 and 1837, says: -
" I have reason to believe there nover has been a year in which the bait has been so well preserved, or the French so completely kept over upon their coast ; for no instance has come to my knowledge of a single French boat having succeeded in taking bait on the South coast of Newfoundland, except in one, as a reward for having saved the lives of five of the Rainbow's officers. I had given permission to a person belonging to St. Pierre's, named Leon Coste, to take as much caplin as would serve himself for two trips to the Great Bank, but in my absence, Frenchman-like, he filled his vessel and sold them to great advantage at St. Pierre's ; but in his second attempt to do so he was captured by one of the Rainbow's boats. Latterly some of the boats from St. Pierre's have endeavoured to encroach beyond the limits ; one was taken after a hard chase, and she is now in possession of my officer at Lamelin, and used as a tender.
" I have had a variety of correspondence and some interviews with the Governor of St. Pierre's, and I really believe that he means well ; but from the very great number of bankers which now yearly come out from Europe to the fishery, I believe this year they exceed three hundred, it is impossible for them to be supplied with bait from the French islands, and of course during the caplin season, very large prices are held out to our fishermen to bring them over, and I believe they have not succeeded in carrying much this year, yet they very candidly say that next year they intend to enter into that trade, and if they escape with one cargo out of three their profit will be handsome, and as the run across is so short it is next to impossible to prevent them, except by the employment of a coast guard. I am sorry to say that many respectable persons about Fortune Bay, who were extremely active in getting up the petition which I believe to have caused the passing of the late Local Act, were themselves deeply engaged in the caplin trade to St. Pierre's, and therefore some part of that Act is as unexpected by, as unpalatable to, them.
" I have now to call the attention of your Excellency to the smuggling trade with St. Pierre's, which is carried on by the inhabitants of nearly the whole of the south coast, where they are out of reach of the officers of the Customs, and I am satisfied that it is of very great magnitude. When I arrived at St. Pierre's in April, there were eleven boats from different parts of Newfoundland there, which had brought over wood, game, and other things, and in exchange they returned with tea, sugar, brandy, different articles of clothing, &c., &c. Indeed, they did not attempt to disguise the fact. As I before remarked, the distance across is so very short, that it is next to impossible to capture them, an hour's run taking them above the Lamelin shelves.
" Another mode in which the colonial revenue suffers is by vessels coining from Halifax, Quebec, and other places, and going into different unfrequented small harbours, exchange their cargoes of spirits, flour, bread, clothing, &c., for fish. I have heard that this has been done on the west coast by American vessels, who have got rid of entire cargoes ; and when I was at St. George's harbour, a person from Halifax was residing there, retailing the cargoes which he had brought there, and which of course had paid no colonial duties.
" At Ingarachoix there are resident some five or six hundred French, from whom the colony derives no benefit. If they are permitted to act so far contrary to the treaties as to reside there entirely, they ought certainly to be amenable to the taxes laid upon the inhabitants of Newfoundland. This is the place most frequented by the French, and I regret that bad weather pre-vented me from going in there, because I believe that they not only cut and export wood for constructing vessels, as well as for fuel, but that they actually build vessels of considerable size there.
" I have already (last year) pointed out to your Excellency the manner in which the revenue is defrauded by articles of every description being smuggled into the outports, not only from the French Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, but also from Halifax, Quebec, and even from America. This is in a great measure the consequence of there being no collectors of the revenue, or even persons authorized to demand or to receive the colonial or custom-house dues.
" Vessels are constantly coming over from the above-named places exchanging brandy, rum, sugar, tobacco, tea, molasses, clothing, furniture, &c., for fish ; of course they confine their voyages to places where they know they are not likely to be disturbed by ships of war or agents from the custom-house, and your Excellency can have no idea to what an extent this traffic is carried on, to the prejudice of the English merchant, and the serious loss to the colonial revenue.
With respect to the smuggling from St. Pierre, I regret to say that this year it has been quadrupled ; the ruinous system of supplying caplin to the French fishermen at St. Pierre is productive of serious diminution to the Newfoundland revenue, and undoubted loss to the British merchant, and operates in every possible manner to favour the French fishery, and to de-press that of the English ; in point of fact, nothing could be conceived more likely to aid the French fishermen in their competition with our own people.
" Last year the French bankers, in consequence of our vigilance in preventing them from hauling caplin upon our coasts, were constrained to lay for weeks at St, Pierre before they could procure their necessary quantity of bait ; this year they have had nothing to do but to purchase bait from the English boats in exchange for tea, tobacco, brandy, &c., and when completed with water, to proceed to the Bank in prosecution of their voyage ; in short, nothing could be devised more likely to for-ward their views. I cannot understand the policy of permitting this traffic, as it appears to me a sort of commercial suicide, putting into the hands of our opponents the means of successfully competing with our fishery, already by far too much depressed."
In 1838, Captain Polkinghorn, of H.M.S. Crocodile, says :-
" While laying at anchor at St. Pierre's, I was informed by an English fisherman belonging to Fortune, that a French fishing boat was then hauling caplin in Danzick Cove, near Fortune ; on learning this I thought it most advisable to visit Fortune Bay before I proceeded westward to the neighbourhood of the Bourgeo Islands, and sailed accordingly on the 19th, to ascertain the correctness of the complaint made to me. On passing Danzick Cove, within two miles, I could not perceive any boat or boats employed as reported ; in the evening of the 19th I anchored at Grand Bank Bay, and at daylight the following morning sent an officer to Fortune to obtain information, while I placed myself in communication with the most intelligent persons I could find at Grand Bank, a considerable village, and similar in situation and population to Fortune. The .two villages are about four miles distant from each other, and can muster from 200 to 250 fishermen, a number fully equal to their own protection from the encroachments of the French fishermen. At these villages I heard not a complaint of any act of aggression on the part of their neighbours at St. Pierre's, on the contrary I found there was too good an understanding between them all the fishermen at these villages acknowledged without reserve that they caught caplin, and sold it to the French ; and this I have since discovered to be a general practice along the whole coast opposite to St. Pierre's, from Grand Bank to Burin Island. It appears that the French, at the commencement of the caplin season, give a good price for this bait, but at a later period the value is much less, and our fishermen get goods for it, and more frequently spirits. The bad effects of this traffic will, I think, soon be apparent our fishery will be injured from scarcity of bait, and our industrious fishermen demoralized under the baneful influence of French spirits."
In consequence of the extensive supply of bait to the French, the Local Government passed an Act imposing a duty of 75 cents the cwt, upon pickled fish exported from. the colony. The passing of this Act tended to increase the smuggling, for immediately the French were made acquainted with the duty on herring, the price was advanced to 45 francs per barrel, and sometimes eight or ten hogsheads of salt were given into the bargain.
The passing of the " Pickled Fish Act " amounted to a probibition to vessels from the neighbouring colonies, which, previous to its passing, used to visit Fortune Bay and other parts of the coast and purchase about 20,000 barrels of herring in bulk, giving in exchange flour, pork, beef, butter, coal, lumber, &c., &c, This was severely felt by the poorer class of the inhabitants. The Act, however, only continued in operation three years. In 1846 and 1847, the Local Government employed a small armed schooner to collect duty under the provisions of the above mentioned Act, as well as to prevent smuggling generally. Mr. Oke, the Commander, in his Report in 1846, says:—
" The first demand for the caplin this season at St. Pierre was on the 1st July, and then but two francs per barrel could be obtained. But for our presence, and the use made of the cruiser's boats, 1,500 or 1,600 barrels would on that day have found their way to St. Peter's from Lowrey's Cove (near Point May), we having at that place fell in with seventeen boats (be-longing to Grand Bank and Fortune), the crews of which were engaged in hauling caplin ; ten had not commenced loading ; two, which had on board 150 barrels, and had not entered at the Custom House, we detained. From this period until the caplin had disappeared, this traffic was, I believe, abandoned."
Simultaneously with the employment of a Revenue vessel, a Custom House Officer was appointed to Gaultois in Hermitage Bay, where Newman & Co. had a mercantile establishment. Gaultois is about fourteen miles distant from Harbour Breton, and contains a population of 320. The following is an extract from the Report of Captain Lock, of Her Majesty's Ship Alarm, employed for the protection of the Fisheries in 1848, addressed to Earl Dundonald :-
" My Lord,—I sailed from Halifax in H.M. sloop under my command on the 14th June, and anchored in the harbour of St. Pierre's the afternoon of the 17th. I found the outer roads and the inner harbour filled with shipping. There were one hundred and thirty-three French vessels, averaging from one hundred to three hundred and fifty and four hundred tons one hundred of these were bankers, chiefly brigs, lately returned with cargoes. They had taken in their salt, and were waiting for bait (caplin), which they told me would strike into the bays of St. Pierre's and Miquelon in a day or two. This prophecy (whether likely to prove true or not) was merely mentioned to deceive me, as it is well known the supply afforded round their own islands is insufficient to meet the great demand. The next morning I observed boats discharging caplin into the bankers, which I ascertained had been brought over from our own shores during the night in English boats, The bait is sold in the harbour of St. Pierre's either by barter for piece goods, provisions, or for money.
" In every way this transaction is illegal. First, by vessels trading to foreign ports without a custom-house clearance, in violation of Act 3 and 4 Wm. 4, chap. 59. Secondly, by sailing without registers ; and thirdly, by defrauding the colony of a branch of its revenue.
" Their only excuse is, that if they were not in self-defence to sell their caplin, the French would take it as they formerly used to do, in defiance of all remonstrances and opposition. For it is, they say, impossible to guard every particular point where the caplin may strike along so extensive a coast, so as to pre-vent the robbery, or in most cases even to see, the French fishermen, in consequence of the frequent and dense fogs. This traffic has now become so systemised and general, and so productive to all parties engaged in it along the coast, that it will be a matter of great difficulty to put it down.
"I waited on the commandant, Monsieur Delecluse (Capitaine de Corvette), and after mentioning the object of my visit, I strongly urged him to aid me in the support of the existing treaty.
" He said he would, and always had endeavoured to do so, in conjunction with my predecessors, but it was an uphill task, owing to the proximity of the island to the main, and the frequent fogs which often enveloped all surrounding objects, some-times for many days together.
" As a means of checking this great evil, I would propose establishing one or two magistrates at central positions, say Fortune, Lamaline, and Burin, and supplying four swift row boats attached to a colonial tender, during the fishing season, and swearing in their coxswains as special constables.
" Some of the local authorities entertain an idea that they cannot exercise jurisdiction over men embarked in boats, but in this I ventured to assure them they are mistaken, and that when boats are fishing in creeks, harbours, or along the coasts, within three miles' distance of the land, the same law extends to the persons of the individuals in them, as to a settler on the shore, and that they would be fully borne out in exercising any legitimate authority they may possess, for an infringement of a local or imperial law by parties so situated.
" The fishing season commenced in the beginning of June, and will close the first week of October. They do not consider it will be a favourable one however, fishermen are as hard to satisfy as farmers their catch will probably average one million quintals.
" The government bounty is eleven francs per quintal, a sum equal to the value of the article itself. Owing to the embarrassed state of the French finances at home, and the failure of all their commercial establishments in the West Indies, there is comparatively no sale for the bank fish this year. No accurate calculation can be formed of the value of the whole quantity of fish caught by the French, as many vessels carry their cargoes to France green. The fish are dried and salted there, and exported thence to the West Indies, and some to the Mediterranean.
" I am assured that three hundred and sixty vessels, from one hundred to three hundred tons burthen, are engaged in the bank fishery, employing from sixteen to seventeen thousand seamen (exclusive of the coast fishermen). All these vessels return to France every winter. Their crews spend the money they make there ; buy the filments they require there, sell their cargoes for the use of their countrymen at cheaper rates than the Newfoundlanders can to the Colonists, and are knit together in a body by the regularity and system of their duties, and man their country's navy if required.
" The French annual Great Bank Fishery averages a catch of a million, two hundred thousand quintals ; and nearly the en-tire quantity is sent to the West Indies. Guadeloupe and Martinique consume two-thirds, and the remainder is exported to other islands.
" The islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon are admirably adapted for the purposes to which they are applied ; no expense to Government they offer the best possible centre for all commercial operations, a depot for their stores, secure harbours for their shipping, and at the same time, owing to their proximity to the shores of Newfoundland, their inhabitants are equally well supplied with bait, and fish; as the British settlers themselves in their vicinity.
"The French authorities, however, do not deny that the sole object of their Government in supporting these fisheries at so great a cost, is to form seamen for their navy. Monsieur Filleau, the intelligent Commissary at St. Pierre's, candidly told me this, and added that no private companies could of themselves support this commerce, unless the market price of the article rose to double its present amount.
" Monsieur Delecluse, the Governor, had also the honesty to affirm that the supply of caplin by the English from their Bays and Coast alone enabled the Bankers to prosecute their fishings, and he believed that to this traffic with his islands our poor settlers were alone enabled to support their existence.
"It is obvious that by witholding from the French the supply of bait from our own shores, their success upon the Grand Bank would sensibly diminish, and the advantages the fish merchants at present derive from their bounty, granted by their Government, over other competitors, could not increase the trade beyond the limits controlled by the comparatively very scanty supply of caplin afforded by their own coasts and islands.
" If, on the other hand, it is the large payment of bounty by the Government that alone upholds the fisheries, and which has advanced them to their flourishing condition, the present is surely the period for our merchants to exert themselves to regain their lost ascendancy, while the French are paralysed by the failure of the French West India markets, and general loss of credit, consequent upon the emancipation of the blacks by the Revolution of February.
CC It is wonderful to observe the inhabitants of a nation, certainly not addicted to maritime pursuits, surpass a seafaring people in the prosecution of an avocation natural to them, and in which it is necessary to display more science ana perseverance to be successful than in any other branch of a sailor's trade.
" In consequence of this anomaly, I cannot but believe there must be some flagrant want, either of industry or skill, on the part of the people of Newfoundland, admitting even that the existence of the French Banker is entirely dependent upon the bounty money.
" However this may be answered, the fact is very apparent that the French had established and systemised a large fleet of vessels, which now no unaided individual enterprise can success-fully compete with.
" The capital advanced by the French Government (at the commencement of the competition with the English Bank Fishermen) at once lowered the market price of fish to almost the cost attendant upon the sailing of the English vessel, which the French bounty alone was, and is still, equal to defray.
" A French vessel of three hundred tons has a crew of at least forty men (worse fed and paid than Englishmen), and is found with from seven to nine heavy anchors, and upwards of eight hundred fathoms of hemp cables. She would also have from four to five large boats, capable of standing heavy weather, and numerous nets and fishing tackle made in France, at one-third the expense our Colonists can procure theirs.
" The boats above-mentioned are capable of laying out from five to six thousand fathoms of line, to which hooks and weights are attached at certain distances and secured by anchors. These are termed Bultows, and are generally shot on each bow and quarter. They are enabled, with the number of hands belonging to each vessel, to lift those lines and take the fish off frequently, both during day and night ; while the smaller English vessels, manned by a weaker crew (consequent upon the greater expense), and only possessing common anchors and cables, are under the necessity of using the ordinary trawl line. Not only are the fish attracted away from the latter by the miles of bait spread over the bottom by their rivals, but when heavy weather occurs they are obliged to weigh, while the French remain securely at anchor, with two hundred fathoms of cable on end, and ready to resume their employment immediately the weather will permit them.
" While we yield to the French the advantages of independent ports and unmolested fisheries, we are on the other hand hampered by circumstances unfelt by them. For example. their fishermen arrive from the parent state, ours belong to a thinly-peopled and dependent colony ; they have their drying grounds close to the fisheries, as we have, on the shores of this very colony, deriving every advantage from it, and untrammeIled by any expenses or local taxes, to which our people have to contribute in addition to the aforesaid disadvantages.
" The distance from France is of no moment ; instead of adding to, it is the means of diminishing, the expense attendant on the conveyance of fish to Europe, for a great portion of the season's catch not sent to the West Indies is carried away by the large fleet of steamers upon their return home for the win-ter; while our fish merchants have to collect the produce of the season from numerous stations, distributed over a. great range of coast, and then again to tranship it into larger vessels to cross the Atlantic.
" It may also be said that our people are working for existence ; the French are sent forth by capitalists, and supported by large bounties paid from their Government. Hence (as I have endeavoured to show), the great reason of their success over our colonists in their expensive mode of fishing on the banks.
"It is not surprising, then, that they have been thrown back upon the coast of the Island, and have abandoned their vessels for small boats, only adapted to fish close to the shore, and in the creeks and harbours.
" Fortunately, the cod the staple wealth of these seas seems inexhaustible, so that a large revenue is still made, but the nursery for seamen has ceased to exist, while our rivals number 16,000 well-trained men belonging to the Bankers, exclusive of 12,000 others attached to their fishing stations on the coasts granted to them by Treaty."
The Hon. C. F. Bennett, in his examination before a Committee of Her Majesty's Council, in 1849, says :--
" I received a letter yesterday stating that French fish had been offered to be sent and delivered in Valencia at six shillings per quintal, which offer had caused the refusal by the dealers to purchase a cargo of English fish then there, and the English vessel was forwarded to Leghorn. The usual freight of fish from this to Valencia is 2s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. sterling, per quintal."
In 1849, that part of the Pickled Fish Act imposing duty on fish exported to the British Colonies was repealed, but the duty on fish exported to the French continued as before.
The repeal of the Navigation Laws and Free Trade policy of Great Britain, I presume, now enable the French to purchase bait themselves at any of the ports of Newfoundland, by paying the duty.
The inhabitants, from Cape La Hune to Cape Ray (about 2,000), did not vote in 1849, and consequently they were not represented in the Legislature of Newfoundland, although they paid their proportion of taxation. There is a Custom House officer, who is also an honorary Magistrate and a Justice of the Peace. Burgeo, La Poêle and Port-aux-Basques are the three principal settlements, from Hermitage Bay to Cape Ray, where there is a telegraph station. The coasts about these places are mostly composed of granite, mica, slate and gneiss, all primary or igneous rocks, and very barren. Captain Polkingham, of H.M.S. Crocodile, visited this part of the coast in 1838, and, in addressing Captain Prescott, the then Governor, he says :
" On the 21st I sailed for the neighbourhood of Bourgeo Islands, but on arriving off them, on the 23rd, I found the Pilot ignorant of the anchorage, and from the report of the natives of their small, narrow harbour, I deemed it advisable to proceed to La Poêle Bay, a central situation between the Bourgeo's and Cape Ray ; I anchored in La Poêle Great Harbour on the 24th, and found there Mr. Reid, a Collector of Customs, also a Mr. Antoine, a merchant from Jersey, carrying on a large fishing establishment, from both these gentlemen I obtained the best information ; it appears that neither the Bourgeo Islands or their neighbourhood have been molested by the French fishermen during the last two years ; and our fishermen at Bourgeo and near it are now become so numerous, that they would not suffer any encroachments similar to those complained of in former years ; I therefore came to the conclusion that an officer and boat's crew were quite unnecessary on this part of the coast. At La Poêle I learnt that many French fishing boats did, in April and May last, touch at Portaux-Basques, in the neighbourhood of Cape Ray, and to the great annoyance and injury of the inhabitants, haul herring with very large nets, and in one or two instances, forcibly took up the nets of our fishermen, and appropriated their contents to their own use ; on this subject I addressed a letter (No. 2) to the Governor of St. Pierre's respecting the suggestion of Commander Hope, of H.M.S. Racer, that His Excellency would cause all his fishing boats out of St. Pierre's to be numbered on their sails ; at La Poêle the cod fishery is general, and said to be most successful in summer and winter, some salmon are caught, but not in considerable numbers."
In 1849, Captain Loch, in his report on the Fisheries, says:
" BURGEO ISLANDS.—JUNE 24.
" The fishing is carried on throughout the year. It was good during the past winter, but indifferent the spring. On the whole they have had a fair catch-6,000 quintals since October. The fish are not so plentiful as they were five years ago. There are about 700 inhabitants residing on these islands they are increasing in numbers fourteen years since there were only two families.
" The French do not interfere with their fishing, or appear on their coasts. The caplin had not been at all plentiful, but were beginning to strike into the harbours in great numbers, and would, they expected, remain on the coast for several weeks.
" They trade principally with Spain and Portugal, sending their largest fish to Cadiz, and generally commanding the early markets of both those countries, in consequence of their ability to prosecute their employment throughout the year.
" These enquiries were principally answered by Mr. Stephens, Agent to Messrs. Newman, Hunt & Co. There was, besides this establishment, a Jersey room, belonging to Mr. Nicolle, who has another fishing station thirty leagues east, and one at La Poêle. During my visit there were two vessels in the port. One of them was receiving cargo for the Levant, and the other collecting fish from the different stations along the coast.
" Most of the fishermen belonging to the settlement were hired by one or other of the above-mentioned houses, and they received 4s. 6d. for every hundred fish delivered ; but unfortunately they are dependent upon their employers for the supply, not only of their boats, nets, clothes, and other articles, but also for their food, so that by what I could ascertain I fear that a very pernicious system of usury is prosecuted. If this should continue the merchants may be enriched, but the settlers will certainly never improve in civilization or prosperity.
" The inhabitants, with but few exceptions, are all Protestants. There are two churches, but, at the time of my visit, no clergy-man, the Rev. M r. Blackmore having been removed to a better living, and Mr. Cunningham, his successor, not having arrived. The magistrate was a Mr. Cox, at present in England. There is also a School-house, to which the fishermen contribute a small annual sum for the education of their children.
" The appearance of the settlement itself is, without exception (considering the reputed value of the fisheries), the most disreputable and wretched I have hitherto seen. True, the ground is a bog, with granite boulders and rocks rising from its centre, upon which the huts and cabins can alone be planted, but yet no attempt seems to be macle to drain the filth and bog water away from their doors, or even to make pathways by which to pass from house to house without having to wade through black mire. The only causeway in the settlement is one formed of deal boards from the Church to Mr. Stephens' residence, nevertheless, to my surprise, I must own that the people seem happy in their state of filth, and I heard no complaint of disturbance, or of any crime having been recently committed."
The following is from an account of the visitation of the Right Rev. Edward Field, D.D., Lord Bishop of Newfoundland, in 1849
" On Sunday, July 8, the fog cleared, but on the vessel drawing near the land the wind entirely failed, and it was necessary to drop the anchor near a large rock, which afterwards proved to be the Colombe of Rotie, within seven or eight miles of La Poêle. Had the position been known before, the Church Ship might easily have reached La Poêle on the Sunday morning, and the Bishop and his companions might have given and received much comfort by joining the Rev. Mr. Appleby and his congregation in the Church which his Lordship consecrated last summer in that settlement. A boat, which was accidentally lying in the Bay of Retie, came off in answer to a gun fired from the Church Ship, and shewed among the rocks the way to a safe harbour. The Church Services were celebrated that day on board, and the friends who directed the ship into the Bay of Rotie gladly accepted the invitation to attend in the evening. There are no settled inhabitants in that Bay.
" On Monday, July 9, the Church Ship was safely moored at her old resting place (which she visited twice last year) in La, Poêle Bay. The Bishop was welcomed by the Rev. Mr. Appleby, by the much-respected agent of Messrs. Nicolle & Co., and the other inhabitants, with their accustomed kindness.
" Tuesday, July 1O.-The Bishop celebrated the Holy Communion and preached. It was his Lordship's intention to have proceeded from La Poêle direct to Port-aux-Basques ; but hearing that the two Cemeteries at the Burgeos would be ready for Consecration, he was induced to retrace his steps.
" On Sunday, the 15th of July, the Graveyards were duly cow secrated, that at Lower Burgeo in the morning, before the Prayers in the Church ; and, in the afternoon, after the service, that on the Sandbank at Upper Burgeo. The Holy Sacrament was administered at each Church. The enlarged Church at Lower Burgeo was well filled ; and the Schools both on the Sunday and working days are numerously attended.
" Monday, July 16th.-The Church Ship left Burgeo with a fair wind. It was the Bishop's intention to call off La Poêle in order to carry the Rev. Mr. Appleby to Port-aux-Basques, at the southern extremity of his mission ; but before reaching La Poêle the weather became thick, with a strong breeze, and it was necessary to stand off. La Poêle was passed in the night ; the next day, with some difficulty (the wind still blowing strong), the Church Ship was piloted through Grandy's Passage into Burnt Island's Bay. Here the Church Ship was detained three days, but every day services were performed on shore to the great gratification of the inhabitants, who had never before enjoyed the privilege of their Bishop's presence. At Burnt Islands the settlers (chiefly from Dorsetshire), are numerous and thriving, and their chief want and chief desire appear to be the means of instruction and religious ordinances.
" On Friday, July 20, the Bishop was enabled to return to Rose Blanche, where he was met by the Rev. Mr. Appleby. On Saturday his Lordship visited on foot the neighbouring settlement of Harbour le Cou.
" Saturday, July 22.—The services of the Church were celebrated at Rose Blanche in a store :—the Bishop preached at each service. On the following day a piece of ground was marked out and measured for a graveyard ; and in the evening, after Prayers in the store, the Bishop again addressed the people. The great need of a resident teacher was felt and expressed here, as in the Burnt Islands ; and the Bishop was reminded of a promise given four years ago to endeavour to supply that need. It is feared that the prospect of the Bishop's being enabled to gratify their wishes and his own in this matter is still very remote.
" On Tuesday, July 24th, the Church Ship sailed to Port-aux-Basques, and Wednesday (St. Matthew's day) the Bishop, at the request of such of the inhabitants as were at home, celebrated the service in the building lately erected and furnished at Channel for divine worship ; but which, in consequence of the absence of the principal settlers and planters, could not be conveyed to the Bishop for the purpose of Consecration. The building erected and furnished by the inhabitants of the place, is substantial and commodious, and fitted up in good style ac-cording to the prevailing fashion in that part of the country. It is greatly regretted that this populous settlement still depends upon the Missionary at La Poêle (30 miles off), for the Church's ordinances and means of grace ; and there is no other Minister of Religion within a much greater distance. The population from La Poêle to Channel cannot be less (the latter place included) than seven hundred souls."