REPORT ON FISHERIES.
Report on the Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries, 1872.
COLONIAL OFFICE RECORD 197 / 57. Appendix No. 56.
NEWFOUNDLAND, JOURNAL OF ASSEMBLY.
Crossed over from St. Barbes on the 17th, detached boats to visit Bradore and the neighbouring islands, and anchored in Blanc Sablon Bay. The Jersey firm of Le Boutellier Bros. have established a new room at Green Island since my visit last year, which is working very well. I was informed that the cod fishery in this place had improved considerably during the last three years; previously to that, it had been failing, and the herring fishery during the same interval had not been good. The want of a church and school is much felt, especially during the summer; it is a pity that a church had not been erected here, instead of at Forteau, where a schoolhouse would have answered the purpose, especially if situated on the Jersey side. A number of fishing schooners and larger vessels belonging to the Jersey and other establishments, were at anchor in the Bay of Bradore, and the neighbouring islands, whose aggregate catch was about 40,000 quintals; some of the schooners had two cod seines each, and the smaller ones one. The trout fishing in this river is excellent, and is only second to that of Forteau; the great advantage being its proximity to the ship. The principal salmon river to the westward is in Salmon Bay, it is called St. Paul's River, and is fished by a Canadian named Louis Chevalier; very few salmon have been caught at Bradore River lately, although it was considered by Lieut. Hughes of the “Niobe” as an excellent fishing river, both for salmon and trout. I was asked while in this place what was the proper boundary line between Canada and Labrador, and whether any fishery laws existed, so that the rights of the fishermen could be ascertained.
The opinion here is that this year's “voyage” is likely to be much better than that of last year, very few salmon had been taken from the river; the country abounds in game, but very little trapping had been done lately.
Sub-Lieut. Warren visited L'Anse Loup and I visited L'Anse Amour during our stay. Mr. Frederick Davis, the resident at the latter place, had heard that some persons from Newfoundland intended to come and settle on his
ground, but I told him that on my return to St. John's I would see what the law was on the subject, as his father had owned and resided on the property for 70 years previously.
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Lieut. Wickham, ascended the Pinware river for some distance, but found no obstruction in the shape of weirs or set nets. Thomas Elworthy, the fisherman, quoted his catch at 40 barrels, but I have reason to believe that he and all the salmon fishers in the rivers on the coast greatly underrate their “net” proceeds. There is much complaining in this place about the French hauling bait; they come over from the other side in Chaloupes of 20 tons and batteaux of 8 tons and return with hundreds of tons of bait to the French shore, with which they strew the ground in the vicinity of their trawls or bultows; this is said to attract the fish off this coast to their own shore.
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The inhabitants of this harbour are rather a large community; they have a church and chapel, and are very orderly and respectable. They remove to winter houses at the head of the bay in the fall of the year; this is also the custom in some other places. There are said to be about 1,500 settlers on the shore between Red Bay and Cape Harrison and about 500 more between this and Blanc Sablon. It is estimated that during the fishing season, there is on the Labrador, a fluctuating population of no less than 30,000 persons, a large proportion of whom are said to be women and children, who are employed on board the fishing craft to split and prepare for salting, and otherwise assist in “making” the fish. I met Mr. Canning, the Sub-Collector of Customs; he said that Judge Pinsent and Mr. Knight, the Collector, were then at Rogoulette, or some other place in that neighbourhood, in the “William Stairs,” revenue vessel; Mr. Canning visits the coast from Red Bay to Blanc Sablon in an open whale boat; he experiences no difficulty in collecting the revenue. There is a rumour on this coast that the French are again trying to get leave to fish on the Labrador. I mention this as one of the various “canards” that are winging their way along the coast.
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Chateau Bay, August 1st.
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I met a sad case of distress on Castle Island. Two fine boys, aged 16 and 12 respectively, sons of a man named Charles Stone, who winters on Cape Norman, and does a great deal of trapping during the season, were lost in the snow for several hours, and on recovery have suffered from frost bites to such an extent that both have lost their feet, and are now helpless cripples. I arranged to take the poor boys down to St. John's in the “Lapwing” for hospital treatment, but on landing with the surgeon to convey them on board, the lads were unwilling to leave their home, and their parents would not decide to entrust them to our care, so I had most reluctantly to leave them to their fate. The state of one of the boys is such that he probably will not live long without medical assistance and generous diet.