1902 Encyclopedia > Newfoundland

Newfoundland




NEWFOUNDLAND. This island, which is a British colony, lies off the eastern coast of North America, directly across the Gulf of St Lawrence. Its south-western ex-tremity approaches within 50 miles of Cape Breton, while its most easterly projection is only 1640 miles from Valentia, on the coast of Ireland. It is situated between 46° 36' 50" and 51° 39' N. lat., and between 52° 37' and 59° 24' 50" W. long. Its greatest length, from Cape Bay to Cape Norman, is 317 miles; its greatest breadth, from Cape Spear to Cape Anguille, 316 miles; and the total area about 42,000 square miles. Its figure roughly approaches an equilateral triangle. Two large peninsulas project from the main body of the island. One of these (Petit Nord) points northwards, and is long and narrow. The other is the peninsula of Avalon, pointing south-east, and almost severed from the principal portion of the island, the connexion being a narrow isthmus, in one place but 3 miles in width. On the eastern side of the Avalon peninsula is situated St John's, the capital. Owing to its extensive frontage on the Atlantic, its numer-ous good harbours, and its proximity to the Banks and the smaller fishing grounds, Avalon is the most thickly populated and commercially important part of the island.
Physical Features.—The shores of Newfoundland present generally a rock-bound aspect when seen from the ocean, but the line of clifis (200 to 300 feet in height) is broken by numerous magnificent bays, running in some instances 80 to 90 miles inland, and throwing out smaller arms in all directions, so that, though the circumference of the island, measuring from headland to headland, is about 1000 miles, the actual length of coast-line is more than twice as great. The bays frequently present scenes of much beauty, being studded with islands, and having their shores clad in dark green forests to the water's edge.
The part of the island nearest the sea consists of a hilly country with eminences of no great elevation. The interior proper consists of an elevated undulating plateau, traversed here and there by ranges of low hills, the surface being diversified with valleys, woods, lakes, ponds, and marshes. Much of this is a savanna country, sustain-ing vast herds of reindeer. All the great hill ranges take a north-easterly and south-westerly direction, the highest land occurring along the western and southern shores. The principal mountain chain, the Long Bange, extends along the western side of the island for nearly its entire length, and has peaks more than 2000 feet high, and parallel to this, but nearer the coast, is the Cape Anguille range. The peninsula of Avalon is very hilly; but the highest summits do not exceed 1500 feet. The country is remarkable for a number of isolated sharply-peaked summits which rise abruptly here and there from the level plain, and bear the local name of " tolts."

The largest river is the Exploits, 200 miles in length, and having a drainage area of between 3000 and 4000 square miles. It rises in the extreme south-western angle of the island, and flows in a north-easterly direction through Bed Indian Lake, terminating in the Bay of Exploits, Notre Dame Bay. The valley through which it flows contains large areas of fertile land, capable of yield-ing crops of all kinds, and in many places is covered with pine forests containing timber of large growth. The next largest river is the Humber, which rises 20 miles inland from Bonne Bay, and after a circuitous course empties itself into Deer Lake, thence flowing into the Bay of Islands. It drains an area of 2000 square miles. The Gander, which rises near the southern coast, and, flowing through Gander Lake, falls into Gander Bay on the east, has a drainage area of 2500 square miles.

One of the most remarkable of the physical features of the island is the immense number of lakes and ponds, which occupy nearly a third of the whole surface. The largest is Grand Lake, 56 miles in length, and covering an area of 192 square miles. It contains an island 22 miles in length %nd 5 in breadth. Bed Indian Lake is 37 miles long and 64 square miles in area ; Gander Lake and Deer Lake occupy 33 and 24 square miles respec-tively; Sandy Lake, Victoria, Hind's, Terra Nova, and George IV. Lakes range next in size. The shores of these great lakes, and the fertile valleys through which their rivers flow, are as yet absolute solitudes, the very existence of which was until recently all but unknown.

Of the bays already alluded to, special mention may be made of St Mary's Bay (25 miles wide at the mouth and 35 miles long, with two arms—Salmonier and Colinet— which stretch still farther into the interior), Placentia Bay (55 miles wide at the entrance and 90 miles long), Fortune Bay (25 miles wide and 70 in length, with numerous arms,, the chief of which are Bay D'Espoir, Hermitage Bay, and Connaigre Bay). At the entrance of Fortune Bay are the two islands of St Pierre and Miquelon, ceded by treaty to France for the shelter of its fishermen, and now all that remains to France of the vast possessions it once held in North America. Around Bay St George, on the western coast (40 miles wide at the mouth and with a good harbour at its head), are some of the most fertile valleys in the island, with fine forests of timber, and a coal-field of large extent. Bay of Islands has three fine arms running 20 miles inland. It is the seat of a valuable herring fishery. Notre Dame Bay is 50 miles wide at its mouth, and runs inland 70 or 80 miles. On its shores are the now famous copper mines, which are worked with great success. Bonavista Bay is of great extent, contains numerous groups of islands, and presents some of the finest scenery in the island. Conception Bay is the most populous and com-mercially important, having on its shores towns and villages containing a population of 42,000. The harbour of St John's is spacious and well sheltered.

Geology. — All the great ancient rock systems, between the Lower Laurentian and the Coal-measures, are more or less represented at one part or another of Newfoundland.

The Laurentian system has an immense spread in the island. It constitutes the principal mountain ranges, coming to the surface through the more recent deposits, on the axes of anticlinal lines, or brought up by great disloca-tions, most of which trend nearly parallel with each other in a general bearing of about north-north-east and south-south-west. The Laurentian gneiss of the Long Bange, on the western side, extends in a nearly straight course from Cape Bay to the headwaters of the Castor in the great northern peninsula. On the south-western extremity of the island these rocks occupy the coast from Cape Bay to La Boile. They are largely exhibited on the Grand Lake, running in a spur from the Long Bange between it and the Bed Indian Lake, and bearing for the south-eastern shores of Hall's Bay. The central portion of the northern peninsula is Laurentian, which also spreads over a wide expanse of country between Grand Lake and the Humber and Exploits rivers, and shows itself on the coast between Canada Bay and White Bay. Another range of Laurentian comes up in the district of Ferryland, and shows itself occasionally on the coast of Conception Bay. Thus more than half the island is Laurentian.

Three-fourths of the peninsula of Avalon are Huronian, a formation which does not extend west of Fortune Bay. The town of St John's and, in fact, nearly all the settle-ments between Fortune Bay and Bonavista Bay are built upon it. Signal Hill, overlooking the harbour of St John's, is capped with the sandstone of this formation. The whole Huronian system is not less than 10,000 feet thick, and has been cut through by denudation to the Laurentian floor. The rocks of the Primordial Silurian age are spread unconformably over the area thus ground down. These evidences of denudation and reconstruction are very clear in Conception Bay, where the rocks of the intermediary system have been ground down to the Laurentian gneiss, and, subsequently, the submarine valley thus formed has been filled up with a new set of sediments, the remains of which are still to be found skirting the shores of the bay and forming the islands in it.

Rocks of the Silurian age are most extensive on the peninsula of Cape St Mary, and around the head of Trinity Bay. These belong to the Brimordial Silurian group. The Lower Silurian rocks have a large development, and in them the metallic ores occur which seem destined to render the island a great mining centre. The Lauzon division of the Quebec group, which is the true metalli-ferous zone of North America, has an immense spread in the island. It consists of serpentine rocks associated with dolomites, diorites, &c, and is well known throughout North America to be usually more or less metalliferous. The Newfoundland rocks are no exception, but give evidence of being rich in metallic ores. The Middle Silurian division of rocks is also widely spread; and the most fertile belts of land and the most valuable forests are nearly all situated on the country occupied by this formation. The great valley of the Exploits and Victoria rivers, the valley of the Gander, and several smaller tracts belong to it. The Carboniferous series occupies a large area on the western side of the island, in the neighbourhood of St George's Bay and Grand Lake. There is also a wider spread of the same series along the valley of the Humber and round the shores of Deer Lake and the eastern half of Grand Lake, and as far as Sandy Lake. " Coal," says Mr Howley, "is known to exist at several places in this series; and seams, apparently of workable thickness, judging from their out-crops, occur on the Middle Barachois and Bobinson's Brook, in St George's Bay."

It will thus be seen that the Carboniferous series is confined to the western side, while the middle, eastern, and southern portions are occupied by Silurian, Huronian, and Laurentian formations. From the extent to which the Lauzon division of the Quebec group, the true metalliferous zone of North America, prevails in the island, its yet un-developed mineral wealth must be very great, while it is fitted to sustain a large agricultural population.

Climate.—The climate is more temperate than that of most portions of the neighbouring continent. It is but rarely, and then only for a few hours, that the thermometer sinks below zero in winter, while the summer range rarely exceeds 80° Fahr., and for the most part does not rise above 70°. The Arctic current exerts a chilling influence along the eastern coast, but as a compensation it brings with it the enormous wealth of commercial fishes and seals, which has rendered the fisheries the most productive in the world. The Gulf Stream, while it creates fogs, modifies the cold. The salubrity of the climate is evidenced by the robust healthy appearance of the inhabitants. Open fireplaces are sufficient to warm the houses, and free exercise in the open air is attainable at all seasons. The average mean temperature at St John's for eight years ending 1864 was 41°-2 Fahr., the maximum being 83° and the minimum 7°; the average height of the barometer was 29-37 inches. The average rainfall is 58-30 inches. Winter sets in, as a rule, in the beginning of December, and lasts until the middle of April. Generally the snow lies during this period, and the frost rarely penetrates the ground to a greater depth than a few inches. Spring is sometimes late in arriving, but once vegetation sets in it advances with marvellous rapidity. The autumn is usually very fine, and is often prolonged till November. There is nothing in the climate to interfere with agriculture. Tornadoes are unknown, and thunderstorms are very rare. Fogs, of which so much is said in connexion with the country, are confined to the shores and bays of the south-eastern and southern coasts.





Fauna.—Among the well-known wild animals indigenous to the country the caribou or reindeer hold a conspicuous place. They migrate regularly between the south-eastern and north-western portions of the island. The winter months are passed in the south, where "browse" is plentiful, and the snow is not too deep to prevent them from reaching the lichens on the lower grounds. In March they begin their spring migration to the barrens and mountains of the north-west. In May or June they bring forth their young. As soon as the frosts of October begin to nip the vegetation they turn south. September and October are the best months for stalk-ing. In addition to the caribou, the wolf and black bear are found in the interior; the fox (black, silver, grey, and red), beaver, otter, arctic hare, North-American hare, weasel, bat, rat, mouse, and musquash or musk-rat are numerous. The famous Newfoundland dog is still to be met with, but good specimens are rare, and he appears to thrive better elsewhere. The common dogs are a degene-rate mongrel race. It is estimated that there are three hundred species of birds in the island, most of them being migratory. Among them may be enumerated the eagle, hawk, owl, wood-pecker, swallow, kingfisher, six species of fly-catchers and the same number of thrushes, warblers and swallows in great variety, finches, ravens, jays. The ptarmigan or willow grouse is very abundant, and is the finest game-bird in the island. The rock ptarmigan is found in the highest and barest mountain ridges. The American golden plover, various species of sandpipers and curlews, the brent goose, ducks, petrels, gulls, and the great northern diver are met with everywhere. The great auk, now extinct, was once found in myriads around the island. The little auk, guillemot, and the razor-billed auk are abundant. No venomous reptiles, toads, or frogs occur. Of molluscous animals the common squid, a cepha-lopod about 6 or 7 inches in length, visits the coasts in immense shoals in August and September, and supplies a valuable bait. A gigantic species of cephalopod was discovered in 1873, which excited much interest among naturalists: the body varies from 7 to 15 feet in length, with a circumference of 5 or 6 feet; from the head ten arms radiate, the two longest (tentacles) being from 21 to 40 feet in length, and covered with suckers at their extremities; the other eight arms vary from 6 to 11 feet, and on one side are entirely covered with suckers. Professor Verrill, of Yale College, has dis-tinguished two species—one he named Architeuthis Harveyi, after the discoverer, and the other Architeuthis monachus.

Flora.—The pine, spruce, birch, juniper, and larch of the forests of the interior furnish ample materials for a large timber trade as well as for shipbuilding purposes. The white pine grows to the height of 70 or 80 feet in some places, and is 3 or 4 feet in diameter. The mountain ash, balsam poplar, and aspen thrive well. Ever-greens are in great variety. The berry-bearing plants cover large areas of the island. The maidenhair or capillaire yields a saccha-rine matter which is lusciously sweet. Flowering plants and ferns are in vast varieties, and wild grasses and clover grow luxuriantly. Garden vegetables of all kinds, and strawberries, raspberries, goose-berries, currants, &c., thrive well.

Fisheries. —These constitute the grand staple industry of the country. The most important is that of the cod, which is the most extensive of the kind in the world. During six years from 1877 to 1882 the average annual export of codfish from Newfoundland amounted to 1,326,259 quintals (cwts.). (For earlier statistics see FISHERIES, vol. ix. p. 266.) The cod are taken on the shores of the island, on the Banks, and along the coast of Labrador. The Bank fishery is now prosecuted chiefly by the French and by Americans, Newfoundlanders occupying themselves with the shore and Labrador fishery. The aggregate annual catch of cod at present in the North-American waters is estimated at 3,700,000 quintals, say 150,000,000 fish. The value at $4 a quintal would be $14,800,000. Nearly four-fifths of the entire returns of the Newfoundland fisheries arise from the cod fishery.

"While the cod fishery does not show any marked advance in the quantities taken during the last thirty years, the market value of dried codfish has risen more than 50 per cent., and the average value of the exported products of the fishery may be fairly reckoned at $5,500,000 per annum. Adding to this the local consumption, we must place the entire annual value at $6,364,000, or £1,325,834 sterling.

The last census (1874) showed that there were 26,377 able-bodied fishermen in the colony, and 45,845 persons engaged in catching and curing fish out of a population of 161,374, 1197 vessels of a tonnage of 61,551 tons, 8902 fishing rooms in actual use, and 18,611 boats employed in the shore fishery. There are now (1883) about 53,000 persons engaged in catching and curing fish out of a population exceeding 180,000. The French Newfoundland fisheries on the Banks and along the shores average from 400,000 to 500,000 quintals,—the number of men employed being 5000 to 6000.

The cod fishery has been prosecuted for about 380 years, but, notwithstanding the enormous drafts every year, to all appearance the cod are as abundant as ever. They begin to appear on the coasts of the island about the first of June, at which time they move from the deep waters of the coast to the shallower and warmer waters near the shore, for spawning purposes. Their approach is heralded by the caplin, a beautiful little fish about 7 inches in length, vast shoals of which arrive, filling every bay and harbour. The cod follow in their wake, feasting greedily upon the «aplin, which supply the best bait. In six weeks the caplin dis-appear, and their place is taken by the squid about the 1st of August. These also supply a valuable bait, and are followed by the herring, which continue till the middle or end of October, when the cod fishery closes. The cod are taken by the hook-and-line, the seine, the cod-net or gill-net, the cod-trap, and the bultow. Newfound-land exports cod to Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Great Britain, the "West Indies, and the United States. Brazil and Spain are the largest consumers.

Next to the cod fishery in value comes that of the seal, which is not more than eighty years old. At present the average annual value of the seal fishery is about $1,100,000, being an eighth part of the entire exports. The number of men employed is from 8000 to 10,000. Steamers were first used in 1863, and now there are about 25 engaged, some of them from 400 to 500 tons burthen; sailing vessels are rapidly diminishing in numbers. According to law, no sailing vessel can clear for the seal fishery before the 1st of March, and no steamer before the 10th. The young seals are born on the ice from the 15th to the 25th of February, and increase in bulk so rapidly that they are in perfect condition by the 20th March.

The seals frequenting the coasts of Newfoundland have regular migratory movements. They are found on the ice from the middle of February till May, when they commence their northerly move-ment. In June they are seen in enormous numbers on the Green-land coast, where they spend two or three months. As the early winter sets in they begin their southern migration, keeping ahead of the ice as it forms, and moving towards the coast of Labrador, feeding in its fiords and bays. Reaching the Great Banks by the close of the year, they feed there till the beginning of February, when their northern migration begins, to meet the ice on which their young are to be brought forth and cradled. For more than sixty years they have borne an annual draft of from a quarter to half a million without showing any sensible diminution in their numbers, but the introduction of steam has given increased facilities for following the old seals at a later period of the season, and for shooting them on the ice, —a practice which may ultimately lead to their extermination.

There are no finer salmon streams than those of Newfoundland, but no proper measures have been taken for their preservation, and ; in consequence such practices as closing the mouths of the rivers with nets at a time when the fish are ascending to spawn, and con-structing weirs, traps, and dams, have been followed to such an extent that in many of the rivers salmon are almost exterminated. The average value of the pickled and fresh salmon exported, during the last ten years, has been about $106,000 per annum. Until recently the chief mode of curing the salmon was salting. In 1842 the export was 4715 tierces ; in 1871, 3977 ; in 1880, 6765; in 1881, 3689; and in 1882, 3825 tierces. The methods of preserving salmon in hermetically sealed tins and of exporting it in ice have been lately introduced with success. Of tinned salmon 34,584 lb were exported in 1880, 20,000 lb in 1881, and 10,000 lb in 1882, while 68,551 lb of frozen salmon were exported in 1881, and 313,000 lb in 1882.
The chief seats of the herring fishery are Fortune Bay, St George's Bay, Bay of Islands, Bonne Bay, and the whole coast of Labrador. The finest fish are those taken off Labrador and in the Bay of Islands. The average annual value of herrings exported during the seven years 1877-83 was $358,359. The value of the herrings sold to the French and Americans as bait is about $150,000 per annum. Allowing 73,000 barrels for home comsumption, at $3 per barrel, we have as the total value of the annual catch of herrings $727,359.

Fifty years ago the mackerel, once very abundant, deserted the Newfoundland waters, and have not since reappeared. But few holibut or haddock are taken. Within the last few years the exportation of preserved lobsters has increased rapidly. Lobster factories have been established at various points. In 1881, 1,299,812 lb of preserved lobsters were exported, and 46,428 lb of frozen lobsters, the total value being$lll,408. In 1882the export was 1,265,224 lb of preserved lobsters, the value being $105,432.

Agriculture.—Up to a comparatively recent period the people of Newfoundland were so exclusively engaged in the fisheries that no attention was given to agriculture ; and persons who were interested in keeping the inhabitants on the sea-coast employed in fishing systematically represented the country as hopelessly barren. That this is not the case has been conclusively proved by the geolo-gical survey. According to its Reports there are in the valleys on the western coast 1320 square miles " perfectly capable of being re-claimed and converted into fairly productive grazing and arable land"; and these valleys are also for the most part well wooded. In the great valleys of the Gander, Gambo, Terra Nova, and Exploits there are 3320 square miles of land suited admirably for settlement. There are also many smaller fertile tracts around the heads of the bays, along the margin of the smaller streams, and in the islands, so that in all there are 5,000,000 acres of cultivable land. At present these fertile tracts are almost wholly unoccupied, but the railway now being constructed will render them accessible and promote their set-tlement. The last census showed that only 34,293 acres are actu-I ally cultivated, the value of the produce being $612,350 per annum.

Minerals.—The first copper mine was opened in 1864, and at the end of 1879 the customs returns showed that copper and nickel ore to the value of £1,000,000 had been exported in the interval. At present Newfoundland stands sixth among the copper-producing countries of the world. The mines are all situated around the shores of the Bay of Notre Dame ; and until the interior is opened by roads and railways this will be the chief scene of mining enter-prise. From one of these mines—Betts Cove—35,000 tons of ore were taken in 1877. The ore is found in proximity to the serpen-tine rocks, but more immediately associated with a chloritic slate which occurs both above and below the serpentine. The area of serpentine rocks in the island is estimated at 5097 square miles. Many other minerals besides copper have been found, such as lead (in many places), silver, and magnetic iron ore ; gold was recently discovered in ' one locality. In St George's Bay there are large workable seams of coal as yet untouched; a seam of excellent cannel coal, 3 feet in thickness, was discovered there many years ago. Mr Jukes estimated the coal basin at 25 miles by 10. Gypsum exists in great abundance in the Carboniferous region, especially at Oodroy and around St George's Bay. Marbles of almost every shade are found on various parts of the coast; limestone, granite of the finest quality, roofing slate, and building stones are abundant.

Shipping.—On December 31, 1881, the registered tonnage of the colony was 1895 vessels, having a tonnage of 89,655 tons. Of these 1866 were sailing vessels and 29 were steamers. In addition, 60 vessels were engaged in the foreign carrying trade which, though owned in Newfoundland, were registered in Britain. The number of vessels entered at the various ports in 1881 was 1366, of 158,345 tons; the number cleared was 1018, of 132,743 tons. The number of steamers cleared at the various ports in 1881 was 181, their tonnage 162,285. The total value of exports in 1882 was $8,228,291; of imports, $8,350,222.

Manufactures. —These are yet on a limited scale, and are confined to St John's. There are a boot and shoe factory, a woollen factory, two tobacco factories, three furniture factories, a rope and cordage factory, three biscuit factories, a tannery, and soap works.





Population. —The earliest estimate of the resident population of Newfoundland was made in 1654, when the total amounted to 1750. In 1680 it reached 2280 ; in 1763, 7000 ; in 1804, 20,000 ; in 1832, 60,000; in 1836, 75,094; in 1857, 124,288; in 1869, 146,536; and in 1874, when the last census was taken, the total population was 161,374. It is now (1883) probably 185,000. St John's, the capital, contained a population of 15,000 in 1835, and in 1882 it was close on 30,000. From 1845 to 1857 the rate of increase for the island was 25 per cent., from 1857 to 1869 18J per cent., and from 1869 to 1874 10 per cent.
The following table shows the numerical strength of the various religious denominations in 1874 :—

Church of Rome 64,317 I Presbyterians 1,168
Church of England 59,561 Congregationalists 461
Wesleyans... 35,702 | Baptists and others 165

The Protestant portion of the population are descendants of English settlers chiefly, and the Roman Catholic portion descend-ants of Irish emigrants.

Education is conducted on the separate or denominational prin-ciple, each religious denomination receiving an amount for its elementary schools and academies proportionate to its numbers. The grant amounts to $93,252 per annum. The total number of scholars in attendance at the schools is 24,971, and the number of schools 416. There are four academies in St John's, and grammar schools in some of the larger towns.

Finance.—The revenue is chiefly derived from duties levied on imports. These are partly ad valorem and partly specific, but only to a very slight extent differential, the tariff being designed for revenue purposes only, not for protection. There are no direct taxes, and no city or town corporations. The expenses connected with the various branches of the public service are all defrayed out of the general revenue. The taxation in 1882 was only $4 '94 per head of a population of 185,368. Within the last twenty years the revenue has more than doubled. In 1860 it amounted to $534,432, and in 1882 to $1,119,385. The consolidated and debenture debt of the colony on December 31, 1881, was $1,351,008. The colony has placed to its credit at 4 per cent. $757,704, being a portion of the fishery award in connexion with the treaty of Washington; and a sinking fund has been established which in twenty-one years will remove over half the public debt.

Government.—Newfoundland is a British colony, directly de-pendent on the crown. Representative government and a consti-tution were granted to it in 1832, and "responsible government" in 1855. Two legislative chambers were appointed—the house of assembly, to be elected, and the legislative council, to be nominated by the governor in council. This form of government has worked satisfactorily. It consists of a governor who is appointed by the crown, and whose term of office is usually about six years ; an executive council chosen by the party commanding a majority in the house of assembly, and consisting of seven members ; a legislative council or upper house, of fifteen members, nominated by the governor in council and holding office for life ; and a house of assembly of thirty-three members, elected every four years by the votes of the people. There are seventeen electoral districts. The members of the lower house are elected by household suffrage. The governor receives a salary of $12,000 per annum, paid by the colony. The supremo court, instituted in 1826, is composed of a chief justice with a salary of $5000 per annum and two assistant judges with salaries of $4000. They are appointed by the crown, and hold their office for life. The jurisdiction of Newfoundland extends over the whole of the Atlantic coast of Labrador.

Roads and Railways.—The first road was made in 1825 (from St John's to Portugal Cove), and about $100,000 per annum are now devoted to making and repairing roads and bridges. At present there are 727 miles of postal roads and 1730 miles of district roads, besides 1200 miles in process of construction. In 1880 Government was authorized by the legislature to raise a loan of £1,000,000 ster-ling, on the credit of the colony, for the purpose of constructing a railway from St John's to Hall's Bay, the centre of the mining region, with branches to Brigus, Harbour Grace, and Carbonear, the whole length to be 340 miles. At the close of 1882 there were 45 miles open for traffic. This railway, when completed, will tra-verse the great valleys of the Gander and Exploits, and afford access to the finest agricultural and timber lands. In 1882 a charter was granted to "The Great American and European Short Line Railway Company " to construct another line which is to run from a point on the eastern coast to Cape Ray, the object being to shorten the route between Europe and America by crossing Newfoundland, The proposed plan is to place a line of the swiftest steamers between Newfoundland and a port on the Irish coast; the proposed railway across the island would convey passengers to Cape Pay, whence a steam-ferry would carry them to Cape North, in the island of Cape Breton, and the railway system of Canada would be reached. The company calculate on shortening the time of travel between London and New York by two days.

History.—Newfoundland, the most ancient of Great Britain's immense colonial possessions, was discovered by JOHN CABOT (see vol. iv. p. 622) in 1497. Gasper Cortoreal, who ranged the coast of North America in 1500, discovered and named Conception Bay and Portugal Cove in Newfoundland, and established the first regular fisheries on its shores. Seven years after Cabot's dis-coveries the fishermen of Normandy, Brittany, and the Basque Provinces were engaged in these. In 1517 40 sail of Portu-guese, French, and Spaniards took part in the cod fishery. In 1578, according to flakluyt, the number of vessels employed in it had increased to 400, of which only 50 were English, the remainder being French and Spanish. At length, however, England awoke to the importance of Cabot's great discovery, and an attempt was made to plant a colony on the shores of the island. Sir Humphrey Gilbert (see vol. x. p. 591), provided with letters patent from Queen Elizabeth, landed at St John's in August 1583, and formally took possession of the country in the queen's name. This first attempt at colonizing was frustrated by the loss of Gilbert soon afterwards at sea. In 1610 James I. granted a patent to Mr Guy, an enterprising Bristol merchant, for " a plantation " in Newfound-land ; but no marked success attended his efforts to found settle-ments. In 1615 Captain Richard Whitbourne of Exmouth in Devonshire was despatched to Newfoundland by the British Admiralty to establish order and correct abuses which had grown up among the fishermen. On his return in 1622 he wrote a Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland Trade, which King James, by an order in council, caused to be distributed among the parishes of the kingdom '' for the encouragement of adventurers unto plantation there." A year after the departure of Whitbourne, Sir George Calvert, afterwards Lord Baltimore, obtained a patent conveying to him the lordship of the whole southern peninsula of Newfoundland, and the right of fishing in the surrounding waters. He planted a colony at Ferrylahd, 40 miles north of Cape Race, where he built a handsome mansion and resided with his family for many years. The French so harassed his settlement by incessant attacks that he at length abandoned it and went to Maryland, where he founded the city of Baltimore.

In 1650, or about a century and a half after its discovery, New-foundland contained only 350 families, or less than 2000 individuals, distributed in fifteen small settlements, chiefly along the eastern shore. These constituted the resident population; but in addition there was a floating population of several thousands who frequented the shores during the summer for the sake of the fisheries, which had now attained very large dimensions. So early as 1626 150 vessels were annually despatched from Devonshire alone ; and the shipowners and traders residing in the west of England sent out their ships and fishing crews early in summer, to prosecute these lucrative fisheries. The fish caught were salted and dried on shore; and on the approach of winter the fishermen re-embarked for England, carrying with them the products of their labour. Hence it became the interest of these traders and shipowners to discourage the settlement of the country, in order to retain the exclusive use of the harbours and fishing coves for their servants, and also a mono-poly of the fisheries. They were able to enlist the British Govern-ment of the day in their project, and stringent laws were passed prohibiting settlement within 6 miles of the shore, forbidding fishermen to remain behind at the dose of the fishing season, and rendering it illegal to build or repair a house without a special licence. The object of this short-sighted policy, which was per-sisted in for more than a century, was to preserve the island as a fishing station, and the fisheries as nurseries for British seamen.

There was, however, another element which retarded the pro-sperity of the country. The French had early realized the immense value of the fisheries, and strove long and desperately to obtain possession of the island. Their constant attacks and encroachments harassed the few settlers, and rendered life and property insecure during the long wars between England and France. When at length, in 1713, the treaty of Utrecht ended hostilities, it did not deliver Newfoundland from the grasp of France, as it yielded to her the right of catching and drying fish on the western and northern side of the island. Though no territorial rights were conferred on the French, and the sovereignty was secured to England, the prac-tical effect was to exclude the inhabitants from the fairest half of the island. Interminable disputes have arisen regarding those treaties, which are not yet settled, and, as a consequence, the fine lands of western Newfoundland are still untenanted, and the mineral treasures untouched.

In spite of the restrictive regulations, the number of the resident population continued to increase. The sturdy settlers clung to the soil, combated the "adventurers," as the merchants were called, and after a lengthened conflict obtained freedom of settlement and relief from oppression. Eut the contest was severe and so prolonged that only seventy years have elapsed since the repeal of the last of those laws which prohibited settlement and the cultivation of the soil. The progress of the colony since has been most satisfactory.

The merchant-adventurers strenuously opposed the appointment of a governor ; but at length, in 1728, the British, Government appointed Captain Henry Osborne first governor of Newfoundland, with a commission to establish a form of civil government. This constituted a new era in the history of the colony. In 1763 the fixed inhabitants had increased to 8000, while 5000 more were summer residents who returned home each winter. In 1765 the coast of Labrador, from the entrance of Hudson's Strait to the river St John, opposite the west end of the island of Anticosti, was attached to the governorship of Newfoundland. The popu-lation in 1785 had increased to 10,000. During the wars between England and France which followed the French Revolution, Newfoundland attained great prosperity, as all competitors in the fisheries were swept from the seas, and the markets of Europe were exclusively in the hands of the merchants of the country. The value of fish trebled _ wages rose to a high figure ; and in 1814 no less than 7000 emigrants arrived. The population now num-bered 80,000. In 1832 representative government was granted to the colony, and provision was made for education. In 1846 a terrible fire destroyed three-fourths of St John's, and with it an enormous amount of property ; but the city rose from its ashes im-proved and beautified. In 1855 the system of responsible govern-ment was inaugurated. In 1858 the first Atlantic cable was landed at Bay of Bull's Arm, Trinity Bay.

Unproductive fisheries, causing a widespread destitution among the working classes, marked the first eight years of the decade between 1860 and 1870. A system of able-bodied pauper relief was initiated to meet the necessities of the case, but was attended with the usual demoralizing results. The necessity of extending the cul-tivation of the soil in order to meet the wants of the growing population was felt more and more as the pressure arising from the failure of the fisheries showed their precarious nature more sensibly. In 1864 copper ore was discovered in the north, and mining opera-tions, furnishing employment for the people, were successfully initiated. In 1869 a series of successful fisheries began, which enabled the Government to terminate the injurious system of able-bodied pauper relief. In 1871 the revenue rose to $831,160. In 1873 direct steam communication with England and America was established.

Authorities.— Hakluyt's Chronicles; Captain Richard Whitbourne, A Discourse
ind Discovery of Newfoundland, 1622; Nicholls, Life of Cabot; Anspach, History
of Newfoundland; (Chief-Justice) Reeve, History of the Government of the Island
of Newfoundland, 1793; Jukes, Newfoundland, 1841; Sir Richard Bonnycastle,
Newfoundland, 1842; Pedley, History of Newfoundland, 1863; Murray and
Howley, Geological Survey of Newfoundland, 1881; and Harvey and Hatton,
Newfoundland, the Oldest British Colony, London, 1883. (M. H.)


Footnotes

1 The geological survey of the island was commenced in 1864, and has been prosecuted steadily since; the results are embodied in The Geological Survey of Newfoundland, by A. Murray, C.M.G., 1881.



The above article was written by: Rev. M. Harvey.



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