CHAPTER VII.--PROSPECTS FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.
473. Much can also be done to
stimulate the raising of animals. The country is well-suited to goats, and in
many parts also to sheep, but in many localities the prevalence of dogs militates
against the keeping of these animals. Under the law of Newfoundland the keeping
of dogs is decided by local option; in some parts of the country dogs are doubtless
of special value as haulers of sledges, but in most localities it would be to the
general advantage that they should be dispensed with in favour of sheep and goats,
even though the people would have to haul their own fuel. In those parts where
sheep are kept the inhabitants make most of their own clothing and find in the
wool a welcome source of revenue; while goats provide a continuous supply of milk
and butter at minimum cost. During our visit to the outports we were impressed by
the relatively superior conditions found in those places which have continued to
place reliance on sheep and goats in preference to dogs.
474. Pigs and poultry can
also be kept without difficulty and we were glad to hear of an effort recently
launched to stimulate the keeping of pigs in the district of Trinity (South).
What can be done there can be done in other places, and we hope that the raising
of these animals will now receive greater attention than it has done in the
475. Experiments undertaken in
recent years in encouraging the keeping of cows have not met with success, but
their failure is attributable not so much to climatic reasons as to lack of
experience in the care and treatment of such animals and the difficulty of
affording expert guidance.
476. In general, the notable
decrease in the Island's live stock since 1921 has caused us serious concern. It
is of great importance that the people should be encouraged to set greater store by
their live stock and we recommend that an expert adviser should be specially
engaged to enquire into the present position and report on the methods by which an
increase in the country's live stock could best be brought about.
477. Within the last two years,
two Associations have been formed in the Island with the object of promoting the
development of agriculture as a basic industry. These Associations are the Land
Development Association, with headquarters at St. John's, and the Newfoundland
Co-operative Self-Help Association, with headquarters at Harbour Grace. The former
Association, which was formed in the spring of 1932, has been able, by means of
donations and subscriptions received from the public, to distribute large
quantities of potatoes and other seeds to necessitous people, mostly in St.
John's. In the autumn of 1932 the Association established a market in a disused
cold storage plant in St. John's, and produce to the value of $7,000 was disposed
of by this means. Cold storage facilities were also provided for over 200 tons of
cabbage, and encouragement given to the making of crates. The activities of the
Association have thus given occupation to a number of unemployed workers and have
afforded them the prospect of becoming self-supporting. The undertaking has not
been free from the difficulties attendant on the initiation of any new enterprise,
but we hope that the experience gained in the last two years will suggest means by
which it can be carried forward with still more useful results.
||Grace Harbour [sic], looking East, 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.
478. The aim of the Association
at Harbour Grace, as its name implies, has been to encourage the people to support
themselves by their own efforts. The Association has increased rapidly in
membership and its endeavours have been attended with an encouraging degree of
479. Great credit is due to
the public-spirited citizens responsible for the organisation of these
Associations, whose activities, if carefully planned and related to projects
within their immediate capacity, should not only exercise a beneficial economic
effect but also promote a spirit of self-reliance in a naturally hard-working and
480. Newfoundland possesses a
great variety of wild fruit, of which the most common are the blueberry, the
partridgeberry, the cranberry and the wild raspberry. In August and early
September the open country is covered with blueberries and the collecting and
packing of these berries for export has become one of the smaller industries of
481. The first shipments of
blueberry were made in 1927-28 and since then some 2,300,000 gallons of the value
of over $1,000,000 have been exported. The full figures are as follows:
|Fiscal Years.|| |
482. The principal market for
blueberries is the United States, which has absorbed all but 40,000 gallons of the
shipments made since the industry was started. Efforts have been made to find
markets in the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany, but these have not so far been
successful. If the berries could be mixed with other berries, such as the
partridgeberry, their sale in these countries might perhaps be stimulated. Owing
to the depression and to the high tariff on Newfoundland berries, the demand in
the United States has been at low level during the last two years, but it has
improved in the present season and there is reason to hope that the industry is
entering on a period of revival and expansion. The price paid to pickers of
berries this year was 10 cents a gallon, but the profusion with which the berries
grow is such that, even at this low rate, hundreds of families have been ensured
of a welcome addition to their earnings from other sources.
483. There would seem to be an
opportunity for the establishment in Newfoundland of a jam-making industry on a
large scale. Besides the berries which have been mentioned there are many other
native berries which could be used for jam-making; the country is also favourably
adapted for the growing of strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, plums, and
484. As we have pointed out
in a previous Chapter,* Newfoundland is a country admirably suited to the raising
of fur-bearing animals. The population being largely confined to the sea-coast,
vast areas of land exist in the interior where such animals could flourish in ideal
conditions without interference. That the fur industry has not attained greater
proportions has been due partly to lack of organised protection and partly to the
instinctive desire of Newfoundlanders to kill anything within sight, even if by so
doing they are destroying their future prospects of income. Much, however, may be
accomplished by propaganda, and we feel convinced that if the full possibilities of
a fur-bearing industry could be explained to the people and a new body of wardens
established under enlightened leadership, great stretches of land which at present
offer no return to the community could within a few years be brought to yield
485. Newfoundland is the
natural home of the beaver, otter, fox, bear, lynx, marten and muskrat. Mink
flourish in Labrador and could probably be introduced into the Island without
difficulty. These creatures require no artificial conditions but merely freedom
from interference. If this could be assured to them, the interior of Newfoundland,
or at least those areas outside the immediate range of the Paper Companies'
operations, might eventually be transformed into a vast fur-farm.
486. Under the present system,
the killing of these animals is subject to regulations issued by the Game and
Inland Fisheries Board, which was first established under statute in 1908. The
Board has succeeded in accomplishing much useful work, but almost from the first
it met with little or no co-operation from the public, and it has been denied the
funds to enable it to build up an adequate protective service. The total income
of the Board at the present time is $30,000, of which $15,000 is contributed by
the Government. The remainder is drawn from fees and from licences issued to
trappers and sportsmen. Five supervisors are employed by the Board, and these in
turn are in charge of some 79 wardens. The latter are now employed whole time but
only during certain seasons. On an average they receive $100 for four months'
work. Their duties are not such as to bring them popularity and it may well be
supposed that, at this rate of wages, the Board experience difficulty in obtaining
suitable men. Moreover, in addition to the protection of fur-bearing animals, the
Board are charged with the duty of controlling all the game resources of the
Island, including animals such as caribou and moose and birds such as partridge and
duck, and also the salmon and trout fishing on the lakes and rivers. As the
fishing is nowhere preserved in private hands, it is natural that much of the
wardens' time should be occupied with patrolling the rivers, to the neglect of
other parts of the country.
487. While the Board has been
struggling to do such protective work as its small resources and the indifference
of the public allow, circumstances have been too strong for it and the situation
to-day is lamentable. There are very few bears left, the beaver has been
practically exterminated, the otter, marten and lynx have been reduced to a
fraction of their former numbers. The fox alone is said to be holding its
488. An efficient system of
protection would also have a marked effect on the numbers of caribou and moose.
These animals, though nominally the subject of a close season, have within the
last two years been killed off at such a rate that, unless the process is checked,
they will shortly be in danger of extinction. From the economic point of view
caribou and moose may not be of the same potential value to the country as
fur-bearing animals. But they are none the less important assets, since their
presence appeals to tourists and sportsmen and carefully preserved herds would do
much to contribute to the food supply of the people and to provide skins from
which boots, gloves and leather could be made.
489. The introduction of
reindeer, if conducted on the proper lines, might bring even greater benefits
to the people, since these animals could doubtless be used for hauling. We have
recorded elsewhere the failure, after initial success, of the experiments made by
Sir Wilfred Grenfell, which proved conclusively that, apart from the human
element, there is no reason why reindeer should not flourish in Newfoundland.
490. In our view, then, the
initiation of an adequate system of protection should be undertaken without delay.
The first step would be to obtain expert advice from Canada, or from some other
country where conditions are similar, as to how such a system might best be set
up and by what measures a revenue-producing industry might best be fostered and
developed. Such measures would probably include the constitution of a new
controlling authority. Once such a scheme had been worked out, from both the
scientific and administrative standpoints, the next step would be to arrange for
the establishment of the new body of Game Wardens which would doubtless be required
for its execution. This body might, we suggest, be organised on similar lines to
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which performs similar services in the
hinterland of Canada, and we recommend that, when this stage is reached, the
Commandant of the Canadian Police should be consulted with a view to the secondment
of a few trained members of that force who could assist in the training of the
Newfoundland body. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police undertake numerous other
duties in addition to those of game wardens, and we suggest in a later chapter
additional ways in which the services of such a force in Newfoundland might be
utilised. A force of 30-40 men would probably be sufficient for the immediate
purposes in view.
491. An interesting suggestion
was made to us that, in the large area in the south of the Island, the herds of
caribou and moose might be held for the benefit of the community in that area.
The opportunity of farming or gardening is limited, owing to the lack of suitable
soil and the rugged nature of the coast-line on which the people live; if the
produce of the herds were reserved for the benefit of the people in the area, it
would not only be a great help to them but would encourage them to take an active
interest in the preservation of the herds.
* Chapter V, paras. 243-245.
Chapter V, para. 244.
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