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A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE TERRITORY OF LABRADORE, ITS INHABITANTS AND PRODUCTIONS, TOGETHER WITH SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE DIFFERENT FISHERYS WHICH ARE CARRY'D ON UPON THAT COAST, AND HOW THE AUTHOR PRESUMES THEY MAY BE IMPROVED, AND EXTENDED, BY AN OFFICER¹ OF THE SQUADRON UNDER THE COMMAND OF COMMODORE SHULDHAM.
Humbly inscribed to the Righ Hon'ble
the Earl of Dartmouth.
COL. COR N., VOL. 5.
It was thought necessary to erect at Chateau a Blockhouse for the protection of the Fishery upon this Coast. Doubtless is was a wise proceedure. It flattered the Fishery with a Mark of the Attention of Government & was a requisite Encouragement towards promoting its Establishment.
We know that about the time this Fort was erected, the Indians committed some Irregularities, and two or three Men were killed. It was justly thought that a beneficial Fishery might be carried on upon that Coast, and it was certainly very proper to make every probable method for encouraging Adventurers to prosecute it. The Esquimeaux are not very well known at present, but at that time they were believed to be a more Savage, ferocious, cruel people than perhaps they really were. The Merchants dreaded the loss of their Craft, & the Servants considered their lives to be in danger.
Now whether the Fort was capable of effectually preserving either the one or the other, might not be enquired into. It is sufficient if its being built induced them to continue on the Coast, and whether it be really necessary or useless is of no consequence. Its being abandoned may alarm the Fishery. The Fisherman will probably look upon themselves as devoted to Destruction, and perhaps those who are most timourous will refuse to continue on the Coast. If a panick once seizes them, wheter there is occasion or not, is of no signification, the Fishery will be ruined.
* * * *
It must be considered they have been long accustomed to ramble in the Summer & they cannot well transport themselves without Boats. They
¹ The manuscript copy of this paper is endorsed at the end with the following note: "Drawn up probably by Lieutenant Roger Curtis."
know not how to build them, and they are as yet Strangers to Industry. The only means by which they may be acquired. The Esquimeaux live at this Day, as the original Inhabitants of the most polished Nations. They have no care beyond the necessities of life. Let proper Methods be taken wit them, and they will soon be weaned from their Brutality. As you expand their Ideas you will multiply their Necessities, and they will consequently attach themselves to those Occupations by which they may relieve them.
The have been threatened with punishment if they steal again, and were this Year forbid going to Newfoundland. This Restriction was very unpleasing to them, but they submitted with the Appearance of much Anxiety not to offend.
Unless a misunderstanding should arise between us (i.e. between the Esquimaux and the English), it is probable these people will never think of offending again. If they ever do, the mischief will be done by surprise, and then the Fort can be of no Service to whom they attack. It is true the Idea of a Military Guard may awe the Indians, and at the same time it will inspire the Fishermen with confidence, because they will consider the Fort as a place of Refuse* in case of Molestation.
With respect to an European Enemy this Fort perhaps was never meant to be any Safeguard. Its want of Strength & situation render it utterly useless for that purpose. But it is our Happiness that a few Salt fish will never induce a Privateer to visit this Coast at such a Distance from home, and the Ships of War may probably find other Employment. This Fort seems to have been erected purely as an Encouragement to the Fishery, and with a View of restraining the Disorders of the Indians; and consiered in that light, there can be no objection to its plan or Situation. But without meaning to give offence to anybody, we cannot help observing, in its Establishment there is room for vast Amusement.*
It has been before hinted that the Fort appeared to be Serviceable only as an asylum, and that for the purpose of preventing and Molestation to the Fishery, it was rather insignificant.