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JUDGE PINSENT'S REPORT, 1868.
COLONIAL OFFICE RECORDS 197/47. JOURNAL OF THE ASSEMBLY,
NEWFOUNDLAND. Appendix No. 658.
Report of Robert J. Pinsent, Esq., Judge of the Court of Labrador to His Excellency the Governor, December 31st, 1868.
31st December, 1868.
To His Excellency
the Governor of Newfoundland, etc.
I have the honour to report to your Excellency my proceedings and observations during my circuit at Labrador during the past summer. I sailed from St. John on the 2nd June, in the schooner “Vivid,” a vessel employed by the Government as a revenue cruiser and circuit ship on the Coast of Labrador; Mr. Knight, Collector of Customs, and Mr. Canning, Sub-Collector, being on board, the former having the general direction of the destination of the vessel.
We arrived at Labrador on the 20th June; from which period until the 2th of October, we continued crusing on the coast from Blanc Sablon, in the Straits of Belle Isle to Indian Harbour and Rigoulette, in Hamilton Inlet. We anchored in 34 different harbours; in some of them two or three times, and called off and communicated with other places. On the 5th of October we returned to St. John's.
I may very justly say
On our arrival at Labrador, we learned that in some localities the residents had been straightened for provision during the past winter, but that no loss of life had actually resulted therefrom.
The wild rabbits of the country, as an article of food, had been of essential service to the poor inhabitants generally; and in some instances aid had been afforded by persons having provisions, to those who were in great want. I was informed that in several places on this coast, hungry people had, during winter, taken salted herrings from the premises of persons who were then in Newfoundland.
The legal cases brought before me during the circuit were:—
|3 of debt,|
1 respecting nets,
1 of bastardy,|
1 of malicious injury,
5 of assault,
2 of larceny,
Application of a wife for a separate
Case of investigation into the death of two
Esquimaux Indians, about which there are
I consider the general conduct of the people of Labrador creditable to them, although I must take exception to the behaviour of some of them during the herring season of last year.
The salmon fishery on the coast of Labrador was this summer more successful than it had been for some years before; but this bunch of the fisheries is, to a limited extent, unimportant as compared with those of the cod and herring.
These causes have necessarily produced much want among the poorest class of the residents of that district. In some cases, the condition of certain cases was so destitute, with reference to the coming winter, that Capt. Parish of H.M. ship “Sphinx” and myself, while together at Red Bay, considered it to be our duty to make some provision for their sustentation. Accordingly he, knowing from personal observation the exact circumstances of the people residing above Red Bay, and within the territory of the Governor of Newfoundland, made arrangements for the very destitute there, and I did the same for the few families in a similar condition on the Red Bay. He also communicated with the Government of Canada on the destitute state of many of the inhabitants of the States living within Canadian territory, with whose condition he was minutely acquainted, having personally visited them during his cruises last summer and fall.
It is to be remembered that in this desolate region, there are no means of obtaining a supply of provisions during the long winter, from stores or traders; and, consequently, that it was requisite to give the needful assistance before we left the coast.
SCHOOLS. There were this year five at Labrador, viz.:—
|Place.||Teacher.||When in Operation.||No. of.||Salary.|
Summer and winter.
14 last summer.
30 last winter.
|Cape Charles.||Miss Young.||Summer only.||18 last summer.||6|
|Battle Harbor.||Rev. W.E. Wilson.||do.||20 do.||6|
|Venison Tickle||Mrs. Pike.||do.||13 do.||6|
|Red Bay.||Mr. Bailey.||Next winter.||20 expected.||6|
| || || || || £33 |
I paid the above mentioned salaries form the money placed by the Government in my hands for that purpose; and I supplied the schools with books.
These schools are quite of an elementary character and irregular operation. It does not appear to me practical to establish a permanent system of general school eduation to the migratory habits of the people. I distributed books among the resident inhabitants of the coast throughout the whole district visited by me. They were gladly and thankfully received, and will, I am sure, be very useful in promoting education in a domestic way among the people.
I also dispensed the medicines placed in my charge by the Government. They were very much valued generally, and in several cases, urgently required. The health of the people at Labrador is usually good, but of course infectious diseases and accidents occur. I was informed that during last winter scarlet fever prevailed in Hamilton Inlet and caused the death of several persons. There is no doctor resident at Labrador.
I beg to state that some of the gentlemen who were in the Commission of the Peace for Labrador have retired from the country; and I would respectfully suggest that their places should be filled up by the appointment of suitable persons.
I would also remark that Mr. Goodrich, the gentleman who was licensed as layman to celebrate marriages at Labrador, has gone away, so that there is no person residing in the locality where he lived now legally authorised to perform that ceremony. This is a want that I think should be supplied by the appointment of one or two fit persons resident on that part of the coast. I refer to the district comprising Sandwich Bay, Hamilton Inlet, and from thence northward, where there is no resident clergyman, and where the inhabitants are seldom, if ever, visited by one: consequently the resident people are obliged to substitute the services of a layman who, without being duly licensed, cannot legalize the marriage. I was applied to on this subject by persons interested in it as permanent inhabitants, and requested to bring the matter under the consideration of the Government.
I regret that I cannot report more favourably of the fisheries at Labrador during th epast season. The cod appear in a great degree to have abandoned the southern part of the coast where formerly they were so abundant, and to have gone northward whither our fishermen have to follow them in vessels of all sizes from 30 tons and upwards.
The hardships and dangers to which they are exposed in this arduous pursuit are manifold, and it would be gratifying indeed to see their exertions crowned with more commensurate success and prosperity.
I have the honour to be,
Your Excellency's most obedient servant,
ROBERT JOHN PINSENT,
Judge of the High Court of Labrador.