CAPTAIN WYVILLE TO SIR J. HARVEY.
H.M.S. Cleopatra, St. John's,
On the Coast of Labrador from Blanc Sablon to Sandwich Bay the fisheries are carried on in Schooners by the Inhabitants of St. Johns and other adjoining Ports with a few establishments from Europe. There are four or five hundred people employed on the Coast. The fisheries are very productive in Cod, Salmon, Seals, and Herrings. In six weeks the general average is about 100 Quintals of Cod a man, and in the spring several thousand Seals. At Eagle River, Sandwich Bay, Messrs. Hunt take about 30 tons of Salmon and from the adjoining Rivers nearly as much. At one haul with the Seine at Lance à Loup Messrs. Stabbs establishment caught 200 Barrels of Herrings, and nearly the same quantity at Blanc Sablon was caught by Messrs. de Quitville. On this part of the Coast the Herrings are uncertain, but not so in St. Georges Bay.
The Herrings come into the Barrasway early in May very regularly. Last year there was shipped from this port 30,000 Barrels in 47 Schooners for Quebec, Halifax and other parts in America. The trade in Herrings might be on a large scale here.
The French encroach on the Labrador Coast early in August. The fish leave their side about that time, the distance across is about fifteen miles where the Fish are in great abundance for a month later. They frequent the unsettled Bays, or get permission from the Settlers by giving the livers of the cod they take.
At Blanc Sablon the people employed by Messrs. de Quitville complained of the tyrannical treatment they suffered from the Agent, for not working on Sundays he had put them in irons (and kept them on Bread and Water until they consented to work). As there is not a magistrate on the coast I advised the Agent to compromise with the men which he did by giving them £2 each, and promised that such treatment should not be repeated. There is a great want of both a magistrate and a medical person on the Coast of Labrador during the fishing Season. There cannot be less than 5,000 people employed on the Coast. There are many disputes arising from the peculiar description of property on the Coast which a Magistrate would easily settle, and in many places I found that the inhabitants wanted medical advice. By the English Fishermen the Season is said to have been a good one.
The French on the Banks have made a fair Season, but to the Northward not good. They have had about 300 Vessels on the Banks and 100 to the Northward employing about 12,000 Men, two-thirds of which are shore going people. They get a Bounty of 11 Francs per Quintal for the fish taken to the West Indies, and 8 for that to the Mediterranean. Very little of the Newfld. fish is used in France.
The American have had a bad Season and had not more than 200 Vessels this year on the Coast, the number being 2/3rds less than last year.
I have the &c.
C. WYVILLE, Captain,
H.M. Ship Cleopatra.
His Excellency Sir John Harvey,
K.C.B. & K.C.H.
Governor &c. &c. &c.
EXTRACT FROM MINUTES OF NEWFOUNDLAND EXECUTIVE COUNCIL.
12th June 1855 to 10th Oct. 1861. RECORD BOOK, 3, p. 116.
June 7th, 1856.
His Excellency the Govr.,
Atty. Gl. Col. Sec. Honble. L. O'Brien.,
Solgl. Rl. General.
It was resolved that a vessel be despatched to Labrador and to the West Coast of this Island to guard fisheries at Bell Isle and to enable the Govt. to enforce the collection of the Revenue, also a suitable boat to guard the
fisheries at Cape John, and that tenders be advertised for suitable craft for that purpose and also for suitable vessels to convey Judges on circuit. James L. Pendergast Esq., M.H.A., was appointed Acting Superintendant of fisheries and Acting Sub Collector for Coast of Labrador and Western Coast of this Island. Remuneration £100 and 10 per cent. on any duties he may collect.