CHAPTER VII.--PROSPECTS FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.

  386. It will have been appreciated from the account of the financial position given in Chapter IV, from the views which we have expressed in Chapter V regarding the present state of the country, and from the description of conditions in the fishing industry in Chapter VI, that there is no immediate prospect of the Island being able to show a balanced budget so long as it is crippled by the present burden of debt. We propose in this chapter to examine in greater detail the resources and prospects of the country, other than those connected with the fisheries.

Timber.

1. THE ANGLO-NEWFOUNDLAND DEVELOPMENT COMPANY.

  387. Newfoundland's forest areas, which are estimated at 25,000 square miles, remained largely undeveloped until the advent to the Island of the first newsprint enterprise in 1905. From 1900 onwards Messrs. Harmsworth of London had been looking for suitable forest areas for the manufacture of pulp and paper, and in 1903 their attention was attracted to the possibilities of Newfoundland. In 1905 negotiations with the Government and with local property-owners were brought to a successful conclusion. Suitable properties were acquired: the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company was formed to operate them; and an Act was passed by the Newfoundland Legislature granting the Company certain concessions, enabling it to lease for 99 years an area of about 2,000 square miles, with Red Indian Lake as its centre (see Map No. 1), and giving it the right to cut logs for pulp-wood from the entire watershed of the Exploits Valley. Further lands have since been acquired and the holdings of the Company now total 7,400 square miles, of which 25 are held in fee simple and 7,375 are held on licence and lease for 99 years from 1903 and various dates, involving payments for rental of $13,350 per annum. The land and buildings are free of all rates and taxes.

  388. The construction of the Company's Mill, which is situated in the interior of the Island at Grand Falls on the Exploits River, was started in 1905 and completed in 1909. Three paper-making machines were installed, with 18 wood-pulp grinders and two sulphite pulp cooking digesters, giving an average output of 120 tons of paper a day. In 1912 additions were made which raised the average daily output to 190-200 tons of paper, and since that date the Mill has steadily grown until it is now capable of an average production of 500 tons a day.

  389. A town of about 5,000 inhabitants has grown up round the Mill of which the major portion has been built by the Company on its own land. This part of the town has been carefully and attractively laid out. Five churches have been built by public subscription, to each of which the Company makes an annual contribution. The Company has provided and maintains a school; it has also provided a public hall, recreation and reading rooms, a library, a well-equipped hospital, and a commodious staff-house. There are also clubs, recreation grounds and other amenities. The houses are fitted with electric light, modern water and drainage systems have been installed, and the town is well supplied with shops. The Company owns a farm which provides the town with milk and vegetables.

  390. In spite of the low price of paper, the Mill has continued to work on a full-time basis, and provides employment for about 700 persons. Salaries and wages have been substantially reduced during the last two years, but the town remains the most prosperous community in the Island. Skilled workers receive on the average 60 cents, semi-skilled workers 40 cents, and labourers 28 cents an hour. The day is divided into 3 shifts of 8 hours each and work is continuous apart from Sundays. The personnel employed is almost entirely of Newfoundland birth. Difficulty was at first experienced in obtaining suitable men for appointment as foremen or superintendents, for the Newfoundlander, while a steady and intelligent worker, is apt to shrink from responsibility and the exercise of discipline. This difficulty, however, is being gradually overcome.

  391. Relations between the Company and its employees are good. Several Trades Unions are either centred at, or have branches in, Grand Falls, and we were pleased to note the spirit of co-operation which existed between the management and the staff. The record of the Company in promoting the welfare of its employees, inside and outside the Mill, is such that the recent reductions in wages, though severe, have been accepted with a good grace. Under present conditions, indeed, the mill may be said to be an oasis in a desert of tribulation; the extent to which it has benefited the people may be judged from the statement, recently made in the Legislative Council, that some $73,000,000 had been disbursed by the Company in Newfoundland, principally in the form of wages, since it was first established in 1905.

  392. The success of the mill, and the rapid rise and growth of Grand Falls, have, however, brought their dangers. We were informed, for instance, that the growth of population was such that a child was born in the town every day of the year. The children of the first party of workers to be employed in the Mill are now growing up and cannot readily be absorbed; the children of late-comers are pressing on their heels and will soon be in need of employment. It will be difficult to find any outlet for them in Newfoundland.

  393. This, indeed, is a problem that is of general application throughout the Island. Large families are the rule in Newfoundland; at the time of the 1921 census 50 per cent. of the population was under 20 years of age. In the past the surplus population has been relieved by emigration to Canada and the United States to the extent of about 15,000 a year; but emigration has now been checked as a result of the world depression and is unlikely to be resumed on the same scale for some time to come. There has been, moreover, during the last two years a marked tendency for increasing numbers of Newfoundlanders to seek a refuge in their own country from difficulties abroad. Unless new outlets can be found, which will provide employment both for those returning and for the rising generation, the Government will be faced not only with recurrent charges for relief but with the demoralisation through the lack of work of what is potentially the most valuable element in the community. This problem is partly linked with that of education to which reference is made elsewhere.

  394. At the moment the people of Grand Falls do not seem to be greatly concerned with these speculations. They are proud of their town, of the Mill and of their work. They are largely self-contained, and have but a general knowledge of the Island's political and financial affairs; their feeling on these matters is summed up in the statement that was freely made to us that the rest of the Island was being sacrificed to the interests of the Avalon Peninsula, and that it was iniquitous that a crippling tariff should be imposed on the whole country in order to satisfy the greed of one corner of the Island. There is an element of justice in this connection, for high tariffs and high railway freights fall heavily on the people, but the point we would make here is that it would be unfortunate if a community with all the advantages of Grand Falls were to become so self-centred as to make no effective contribution, by taking part in the public life of the Island, towards the solution of the country's difficulties. At present the feeling in the town of Grand Falls is that it is contributing to the revenues of the Island out of all proportion to the benefits received, that is, the taxes levied and collected are expended elsewhere.

Beachy Cove (7 miles from St. John's), 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 (61 kb)
Beachy Cove

  395. Work in the forests which supply the mill gives employment to an average of 1,200 men for six months in the year. The operations in the woods, cutting, hauling and driving, have been described in Chapter V.* At the height of the cutting season, the number of men employed is 1,400; there follows the hauling for which some 900 men are re-engaged; and this number is again reduced during the ensuing driving operations. The wood used in the Mill is mostly Black Spruce (Picea Mariana) and Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea). The forests also yield a small percentage of hardwood, mostly birch, larch or tamarack (called "juniper" in Newfoundland), aspen, and white pine. These trees are not suitable for paper-making and are left standing when cutting takes place. The Company also own a Groundwood Pulp Mill at Bishop's Falls, having acquired this mill in 1923 from the Albert E. Reed and Company (Newfoundland), Limited; the capacity of the mill is 180 tons, dry weight, daily and the production of groundwood slush stock at Bishop's Falls is pumped to the Paper Mill at Grand Falls through a 20-inch pipe-line a distance of 11 miles. A town site has been laid out by the Company at Bishop's Falls on lines similar to those at Grand Falls.


  * Paragraph 205.


Image description updated May, 2004.



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