NEWFOUNDLAND
ROYAL COMMISSION, 1933

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TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY,

  Your Majesty's Warrant, bearing date the seventeenth day of February, 1933, appointed us Commissioners with the following Terms of Reference:--

            "To examine into the future of Newfoundland
       and, in particular, to report on the financial
       situation and prospects therein."

  We now humbly beg leave to submit to Your Majesty the following Report.


REPORT

CHAPTER I.--INTRODUCTORY.

  1. We, Your Majesty's Commissioners, assembled at St. John's, Newfoundland, on Monday, 13th March, 1933, and we were received by His Excellency the Governor, who honoured us by returning our call on the following day. Immediately on our arrival, we proceeded to make arrangements for the hearing of evidence.

  2. Our Opening Sitting was held in public on Thursday, 16th March, when, after Your Majesty's Commission had been read, the Prime Minister, the Honourable F.C. Alderdice, welcomed the Commission on behalf of the Government and people of Newfoundland. In reply, the Chairman expressed our gratification at the warm-hearted manner in which we had been received and indicated the procedure which we proposed to adopt in our enquiry.

  3. After full consideration, we decided to hold our sittings in camera in order that all those who wished to give evidence might speak their minds freely with the assurance that their confidence would be respected. We felt sure that in this way we would most quickly and certainly arrive at the facts and ascertain the true current of public feeling. The wisdom of this decision was fully confirmed as out hearings progressed.

  4. On Monday, 20th March, we commenced our regular sittings for the purpose of hearing evidence. It was our practice to sit morning and afternoon for five days a week, and sometimes we heard evidence in the evenings as well. Our sittings continued until Friday, 14th April, when we broke off for an inspection of some of the outports (the coastal towns and villages outside St. John's) and the communities in the interior of the Island.

  5. We accordingly left St. John's on the 17th April, and visited, during the ensuing fortnight, Harbour Grace, Carbonear, Heart's Content, Winterton, Bonavista, Catalina, Trinity, Lewisporte, Stevenville, and St. George's, hearing evidence at all these places. We had wished to go further north, but the country was not then open. We collected evidence, however, from Twillingate, St. Anthony and other places in the northern part of the Island, and from Labrador.

St. Anthony, n.d.
Photo by Holloway. From the album of photographs furnished to the Newfoundland Royal Commission, August 1933. Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (Coll-207), Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, St. John's, Newfoundland.
Larger Version (42 kb)
St. Anthony

  6. On the 28th April, after visiting Channel, we embarked at Port-aux-Basques for Canada, reaching Ottawa via North Sydney and Montreal on the evening of the 30th April. At Ottawa we were received by His Excellency the Governor-General. We remained at Ottawa until the 22nd May. Every courtesy was extended to us by the Canadian Government and we had the advantage of meeting the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable R.B. Bennett, and his colleagues. We were able to gain much useful information on certain technical aspects of our Inquiry and derived great assistance from the material so freely placed before us by members of the Canadian Civil Service. We also heard evidence from witnesses who could more conveniently meet us at Ottawa than at St. John's.

  7. We next proceeded to Montreal. Here we spent two days and heard further evidence; we also had a long interview with the General Managers of the Bank of Montreal. On the evening of the 24th May we left Montreal for Halifax, were we were received by the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. We interviewed the Manager and Directors of the Bank of Nova Scotia and heard further evidence, mostly relating to the fishing industry. On the 27th May we left Halifax for Newfoundland and arrived back in St. John's on the 29th May.

  8. On the 30th May, we resumed our sittings for the purpose of hearing evidence and these sittings continued until the end of June. We also heard evidence at Bay Bulls (where we inspected the Biological Station under the superintendence of Dr. Harold Thompson) and Bay Roberts. We also visited Salmonier, Placentia, Brigus, Holyrood and other places in the Island for the purposes of our Inquiry.

  9. In all, we held about 100 formal sittings, and 260 witnesses, nearly half of whom came from outlying settlements, were heard and examined. In addition, we received a large number of letters and memoranda from all parts of the country.

  10. We may thus claim to have fulfilled our purposes of establishing close contact with all sections of the community. In addition to hearing formal evidence, we took every opportunity by means of informal visits of familiarising ourselves with the activities of the people and the conditions in which they live and work. It was our special object at every place we visited to see and talk with fishermen and workpeople in their natural setting, as well as merchants, doctors, clergymen and others; every branch of the fishing industry was shown and explained to us, and the information which we thus acquired proved of the greatest value. Stores, factories, farms, saw mills, fishing vessels, establishments for frozen fish, fish curing establishments, the stages of the fishermen, and the fish exporters' premises--all these we visited to the extent that time permitted. We made a detailed inspection of the two paper mills at Grand Falls and Corner Brook and the mine and workshops at Buchans. Everywhere we were received with the utmost cordiality, and we cannot acknowledge too highly the warmth of the welcome given to us by the people and the helpful manner in which they placed their views and suggestions before us.

  11. We have also considered a report from one of our number containing information relative to the subject of our Inquiry collected by him during his inspection of the establishments of certain fish curing and kindred industries in the United Kingdom.

  12. We adjourned our sittings at the beginning of July with a view to the sifting of the vast amount of evidence that had been presented to us and to the preparation of a draft Report. We reassembled in St. John's on the 14th September. The unanimous Report which we now humbly beg leave to submit to Your Majesty is thus the result of an extended study of the situation in Newfoundland, and it is our hope that the recommendations which it contains may commend themselves to the joint and favourable consideration of those of Your Majesty's Governments on whose immediate collaboration depends, in our view, the future welfare of Your Majesty's subjects in the Island.

Image description updated May, 2004.


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