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JUDGE SWEETLAND'S PROCEEDINGS OF THE CIRCUIT COURT, 1863.
COLONIAL OFFICE RECORDS 1971/38. APPENDIX NO. 8.
JOURNAL OF COUNCIL, NEWFOUNDLAND.
Copy of the Proceedings of the Circuit Court, held in the summer of 1863, for the administration of justice on the Coast of Labrador, within the jurisdiction of this Government, under Act 26th Victoria, cap. 2, etc., etc.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE CIRCUIT COURT.
Held in the Summer of 1863, for the administration of justice (vide 26 Vic. cap. 2) on the Coast of Labrador; with the Judge's Report of the times when, and the places where, the court was held, the number and nature of the cases brought before, settled and decided by the Judge, and of those reserved for the opinion of the Supreme Court.
To the Hon. Hugh W. Hoyles,
H.M. Attorney General,
Having had the honour to be appointed by His Excellency and Council to the office of Judge of the Court of Labrador, I accompanied the gentleman appointed to collect the revenue in the hired craft the “Volant,” from St. John's on the 15th June.
There are no pretensions to gardens or cultivation; yet I think, back from the sea, out of the reach of the sand drift, the soil is good and climate genial enough to ripen ordinary crops. The river is level, the tide flowing up about 11 miles; then a slight rise, and again level for a considerable distance. Many patches of excellent grass are to be found opposite the river. No cattle of any sort except a horse, made useful on De Queteville's room. No wood within view; no salmon fishery.
At Pinware, in Black Bay, is a salmon fishery of small extent in comparison with those on the coast east and north. The cod fishery was progressing favourably in the bay.
The salmon is altogether on the coast, there being no river or estuary to invite their visits.
On our circuit we visited:—
Cape Charles (twice),
Battle Harbor (three times),
Salt Pond (twice),
Spear Harbour (twice),
Francis ,, ,,
,, ,, Bight (twice),
Venison Tickle (twice),
Hawk's Harbor (twice),
We had before the Court:—
|6 persons concerned in breaches of the|
2 persons for breach of the 8th and 10th sec.
26th Vic. cap. 1,
2 trespass cases, involving right of fishery,
10 cases of account,
The Court was open every day and at all hours when the vessel was in port, even at night, to accommodate witnesses who would lose a day's fishing if compelled to attend by day. Like most circuit courts, the moral effect is greater than the amount of business done.
There was no complaint of barring herring, and only in one instance did I hear of its being done. Far less drunkenness and fewer assaults than usually occur in places reported to be very quiet. It is probable that this was owing to an absence of idleness.
I would not estimate the resident population to be over 700 or 800 on the whole coast.
Our little vessel was large enough, sailed well, and was very managable. The captain and crew were fishing and appear to take a lively interest in the result of the voyage. The only addition requisite being a good whale boat, to be had on the coast for about £12, to enable the collector to push into small places in the vicinity, if he wished it, whilst the vessel would be detained on other matters connected with the object of the expedition.
You will perceive that I have dwelt longer on the subject of the western part of the coast than any other; I have done so because our fishermen know very little about it, or the advantages it presents to them and also on account of the extent of its foreign trade.
I have, etc.,
(Signed) BENJ. SWEETLAND.