The English Period (1714-1764)

In 1714 the British were quite unfamiliar with the newly-acquired regions of Placentia Bay, the Burin Peninsula, the South Coast from Fortune Bay west to Cape Ray, as well as the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. To encourage British fishermen to expand into the region and to exploit the wealth of resources believed to be there, the British government authorized two separate surveys of the south coast between 1714 and 1716. William Taverner, a Newfoundland planter and merchant, surveyed the resources and people of the region from Placentia Bay west for the British Board of Trade; Lieutenant John Gaudy conducted a cartographic survey of the region for the British Admiralty in 1716, beginning at St. Pierre.

Both surveys revealed that a number of the original French inhabitants had chosen to remain in the region rather than shift their residence to the island of Cape Breton, where France was establishing the new fishing colony of Ile Royale. Taverner also showed that St. Pierre continued to serve the region west of Placentia Bay as a social and commercial centre. He described St. Pierre as:

a considerable Place of Trade, especially about Michmas [September 29] where all the Planters & Servants from the Bay de Espère, Capnigro, Grand Bank, Fortune, Courbin &c. bring in their Furrs and Summers Fish to sell for purchasing their Winters Provisions and necessarys.

For the first few years of British control, ships from Saint Mâlo continued to appear at St. Pierre. But such trade was illegal and soon faded away. Contributing to the disappearance of the French merchants was the gradual appearance of English and Anglo-American merchants, who established commercial premises on the islands. A number of merchants owned houses, storehouses, stages and fishing facilities in St. Pierre by the 1760s, while the island of Miquelon was granted in its entirety to a Massachusetts resident in 1722. He later sold the island to two New Hampshire men during the 1750s.

© 2001, Olaf Uwe Janzen.

Bibliography


Partnered Projects Exploration and Settlement - Table of Contents Site Map Search Heritage Web Site Home