CHAPTER II.--DESCRIPTIVE. (continued)

Natural Resources.

  32. Newfoundland's main resource is her fisheries which are described in detail in Chapter VI. Ever since Cabot's discovery of the Island in 1497 Newfoundland has been renowned for cod, which is equal if not superior in quality to that obtainable anywhere else in the world. The word "fish" in Newfoundland means "cod fish" and it is on the cod fishery that the economic structure of the Island primarily rests. The average annual catch is estimated at 1,500,000 quintals or hundred-weights, of which some 200,000 quintals are consumed locally. The remainder are cured for export, the principal markets being Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Brazil and the West Indies. The census returns show that in 1921 some 65,000 persons, or one-quarter of the population, were occupied exclusively in catching and curing fish; the number of fishermen-farmers was 34,000 (see Appendix A).

  33. Next in importance to the cod fishery come the seal fishery which takes place annually in March and April, and the salmon fishery which usually lasts for six weeks in May and June. The export of chilled salmon to the United Kingdom is now one of the most promising of local industries. Lobster and halibut are exported to Canada and the United States and there is also a small trade in dried squid exported mostly to China. Haddock and mackerel are only taken occasionally. Herring are plentiful and at one time used to be salted and cured in large quantities for foreign markets. Tariff difficulties in other countries and declining demand have, however, reduced the industry to small proportions. The salmon and trout fishing on the rivers and lakes of Newfoundland ranks amongst the finest in the world, and for many years has attracted sportsmen to the Island. The best salmon rivers are those on the West Coast.

  34. Apart from her fisheries, Newfoundland's principal resources are her forests and her mines. The former, which consist mainly of spruce and fir, with a small percentage of birch, pine and juniper, support two paper mills, one at Grand Falls and the other at Corner Brook, capable of producing 500 and 600 tons of paper in the Gander Valley. The mill at Grand Falls is owned and operated by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, first established in 1905; that at Corner Brook was built in 1923 and since 1927 has been operated by the International Power and Paper Company of Newfoundland, Limited, which is a subsidiary of the International Power and Paper Company of New York. In both these places model towns have been laid out under town planning schemes. The number of men employed in the two mills is approximately 1,400; at the height of the cutting season some 3,000 men are employed in the woods. The amount paid by the two Companies in wages is about $6,000,000 per annum in normal years. The activities of these Companies are considered in detail in Chapter VII.

  35. The two mines at present working in Newfoundland are situated at Bell Island in Conception Bay and Buchans on Red Indian Lake. The former contains immense deposits of iron-ore and is said to be the largest mine of this description in the British Empire. It is owned by a Canadian Company, the Dominion Iron and Steel Corporation, Limited. In normal conditions the mine gives full time employment to 2,200 men. As a result of the world depression two sections out of four have been closed, and at present time employment can only be found for 1,100 men for two days a week. In 1930 over $2,000,000 was paid in salaries and wages; the pay-roll has now been reduced to less than $500,000 a year. Germany hitherto has been the principal market for Newfoundland ore, which has not so far been used to any large extent in the United Kingdom.

  36. The mine at Buchans, opened in 1928, is engaged in the production of lead and zinc concentrates. It is equipped with the most modern machinery and although prices are low it has so far succeeded in working full time. The number of men employed is 350. The life of the mine is estimated at 14 years; it is improbable, however, that this is an isolated deposit and prospecting is undertaken annually which it is hoped will lead to further discoveries. The mine is operated by the Buchans Mining Company, Ltd., a company which was formed as the result of an agreement between the American Smelting and Refining Company and the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company on whose land the mine is situated.

  37. Copper has been worked in the Island, principally in Notre Dame Bay, but no mines are at present operating. The largest mine was that at Tilt Cove, which was opened in 1864 and proved for a number of years a great asset to the community. During the 'eighties Newfoundland was the sixth largest copper producer among the countries of the world.

  38. Coal is known to exist in St. George's Bay and silver, nickel, chromium, antimony, asbestos and venadium are also found in various parts of the Island. These have not yet been shown to be commercially workable, but it may be taken that the mineral possibilities of Newfoundland have been by no means exhausted.

  39. The resources of Labrador, apart from the fishery, remain largely a matter for speculation, since the country has never been surveyed. It is estimated, however, that of the total area of 110,000 square miles, some 30,000 square miles consist of timber-lands suited to commercial use. Minerals are believed to exist in certain parts of the territory and active prospecting for gold is now in progress. The ample facilities for water-power should prove of great value when the country is developed. Enterprise has hitherto not been directed towards Labrador.

Port Manvers River Looking Southwest over Port Manvers and Port Manvers River, Labrador, n.d.
Photographer unknown. 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 (48 kb)

Local Manufactures.

  40. A number of secondary industries are carried on both in St. John's and the outports. A list of these, showing the number of firms engaged, as follows:--

Aerated Waters
Breweries
Biscuits
Boots and Shoes
Brooms
Butter
Cabinet-making
Cans
Carriage-building
Chemicals
Clothing
Confectionary
Cooperage
Cordage
Foundries
Furniture
Gas
9
3
3
4
1
2
1
2
3
1
3
4
3
1
3
4
1
Ice Cream
Leather and Leather Goods
Lime
Lumber and Wood Workers
Mattresses
Monuments
Nails
Paints
Pulp and Paper
Sailmakers
Ships and Boats
Soap
Stoves and Castings
Tobacco
Trunks
Woollen Goods
1
3
1
3
4
3
1
1
2
2
2
2
3
1
2
1

  41. In many cases, these industries have difficulty, in spite of a high protective tariff, in meeting outside competition, and it is a debatable question how far their existence may be said to have served the best interests of the country. There has been a continued reduction in the volume of business during the last three years with a corresponding decrease in the number of work-people. It is estimated that the total turnover of these industries during 1932 was $4,000,000 as against $8,500,000 in 1929. A number of workshops and factories have recently been forced to suspend operations; others are working on a part-time basis. A few, such as the butter, biscuit and cordage factories and the breweries, are showing good results. According to the census of 1921 the number of persons employed in factories was 1,833. While no definite figures are available, it is now estimated at 1,000.

Image description updated May, 2004.



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