VOLUNTARY STATEMENT OF CAPT. JAMES G. JOY, OF ST. JOHN'S.
Capt. Joy, a native of St. John's, now in his 77th year, was during his active life connected with the fishery industries of this country and conducted a business at Salmon River, Canadian Labrador, and latterly has been Marine Superintendent for Messrs. Job Bros. & Company of St. John's, a firm engaged in the catching and exporting of the fishery products of Newfoundland for over a hundred years with establishments on Labrador since 1861. His statement is as follows:—
I, James G. Joy have had my attention drawn to a statement by Mr. Ralph Parsons, Manager of the Hudson's Bay Company's Labrador Department with headquarters in St. John's, to the effect that Newfoundland does not care for her people on Labrador as well as Canada does for hers. In my opinion this view is not at all warranted. I have been connected with the fishery business on Canadian Labrador, in Belle Isle Strait, west of the boundary line at Blanc Sablon for over 50 years, and have had good opportunities of seeing how the Canadian authorities cared for their people there. As a matter of fact they did not give anything like the attention to them that the Newfoundland Government gave to its people east of the boundary line. There was no proper mail or passenger service on the Canadian side, and no mail steamer calling there, and for the whole 300 miles east of Natashquan the people had to put up with as their sole means of communication, open boats or skiffs, which carried both mails and passengers, while Newfoundland provided steamers for this purpose. The only evidence of jurisdiction I ever saw or heard of, on the Canadian area, was the fishery officer who made a visit there once each summer or sometimes twice, in a revenue cruiser, and being a doctor, gave a little attention to the medical needs of the people.
I carried on a fishery business at Salmon River, Canadian Labrador, near Blanc Sablon, from 1861 until 1905, and am quite satisfied that the Canadian people residing along that coast never got the consideration or care that Newfoundland gave her people east of the Boundary line. There were no authorities to enforce the law and the collection of debts was impossible. Nearly all the mail and passenger traffic was done by way of Newfoundland, there were hardly any school facilities provided, and except for the officer on the revenue cruiser there was no medical care at all given to the people east of Natashquan, a stretch of coast 300 miles long. The interior of Canadian Labrador was just as unexplored as that of Newfoundland Labrador, all the people were fishermen and never went inland any farther than was necessary to hunt for their subsistence. They were supplied with the necessaries of life by traders like myself and their Government showed no interest in them whatever. The only people who carried on the fisheries in a large way were from Newfoundland, and but for them the people would
have fared badly. I have kept in pretty close touch with this region since I gave up active business there, visiting it nearly every year, and I believe that, in the main, conditions are much the same there now as they were then. I know that they have no regular steamer service like the Newfoundlanders have and that most of their trade is done via the West Coast of Newfoundland, because of the facilities the weekly mail boat there gives them, and I know that last Fall there was a great outcry in the newspapers about distress on that part of the Labrador coast and that the Quebec Government had to send a steamer with supplies to feed the people, just as the Newfoundland Government sometimes has to send supplies for its people east of the boundary.
I make the foregoing statement voluntarily, verily believing it to be true to the best of my knowledge and belief.
JAMES G. JOY.
Witness P. T. MCGRATH.
Dated Apr. 2/22.
VOLUNTARY STATEMENT OF WILLIAM COLLINGWOOD, OF ST. JOHN'S.
Mr. Collingwood, who is now in his 81st year was born in Poole, Dorset, England, in 1842, and came to Labrador in 1855, as a clerk with T. and D. Slade, of Poole, Dorset, England, who had a fishing premises at Battle Harbor. Here he remained for twenty years, staying all the year round except on rare occasions, when he got a holiday. The first 16 years he was with the Slade firm, and for the remainder with Baine Johnstone & Co., of St. John's, a firm connected with the fisheries of Newfoundland for nearly a century, and who bought out the Slades. Then he was transferred to the main business of Baine Johnstone & Co., at St. John's, and last year after spending fifty years in the firm was retired on a pension. His statement is as follows:—
I, William Collingwood, of St. John's, Storekeeper, say that I was born in Poole, Dorset, England, in 1842 and came to Battle Harbor in 1855 as a clerk in the employ of Slade and Company, who had fishing premises at Battle Harbor and Venison Island. I came out in the schooner “Lord Nelson,” commanded by my father Capt. T. Collingwood. I stayed with the firm of Slade until they sold out to Baine Johnstone & Co., of St. John's in 1871 and then I went with that firm. I remained on the coast until 1883. I was then transferred to their establishment at St. John's. In the early days at Battle Harbor and Venison Island our vessels brought supplies partly from England, and partly from Hamburg, and then made trips to New York to bring us pork, beef, flour, molasses, and rum. Another firm
of Slades had houses at Twillingate, and Fogo, on the east coast of Newfoundland, and the people from these places often came to Battle Harbor and vicinity to fish, although the French, who claimed rights at different points, and also the American and Nova Scotians, who fished along the coast, made it very uncomfortable for them.
When first I went to the coast we paid no duties whatever, but about 1857, I think, Mr. J. L. Pendergast, a member of the Newfoundland Legislature came down to the coast in a brig with painted ports, the name I cannot recall, with some authority to collect duties, but everybody refused to pay and he took no drastic measures to compel them to do so. About 1863, I think, Mr. James Winter came down as Collector of Customs in the schooner Volant, with Capt. Pike as Master; and Mr. Bendell, our agent at Battle Harbor paid duties under protest, and Mr. Brockway, our agent at Venison Island, did the same. The next year our Principals instructed us to refuse absolutely to pay, which we did, until Mr. Winter threatened to seize our property and then we gave in. After that we paid the duties every year. At the outset of this controversy the Slades were so incensed that they sold the Venison Island property to Ridley's of Harbor Grace, and Liverpool, who failed a few years later, and the property was then purchased by John Rorke & Son, of Carbonear, who also had a premises at St. Francis Harbor, on the Labrador coast.
During this period we had some resident English clergymen at Battle Harbor. Before I came there was a Rev. Mr. Disney, and in my own recollection Rev. Mr. Hutchinson, Rev. Mr. Botwood, Rev. Mr. Wilson, Rev. Mr. Bishop, and Rev. Mr. Weary. Rev. Hutchinson, in the winter of 1861, made a trip up the coast to Sandwich Bay, I got him a good team of dogs and accompanied him as far as Venison Island. He made the trip successfully, he was the first to do it, and after that it became a regular thing every winter. In those days the population in the Straits from Bonne Esperance east was quite large, compared with what it is now. There were lots of settlers from England and Ireland, but mostly English. Battle Harbor and vicinity had in those times about 600 people. But in the '70's, owing to bad times and other causes a great number of the people moved away, a lot of them to Bay of Island, on the West Coast of Newfoundland, as the farming possibilities appealed to them; and a great many others to Canada and United States.
After Mr. Winter came as Customs collector for the Newfoundland Government, we had the late Mr. Michael Knight, then Mr. Berteau, and in recent times they have had permanent customs officers on the coast. After the first refusal was overcome there, no one refused to pay duties. I never saw or heard of any Canadian officer, nor did I hear of Canada claiming any jurisdiction or authority on the coast, and no Canadian revenue cruiser or officer ever made any attempt to collect duties from us. Mr. Winter began the practice, which his successors continued, of forcing the Canadian and American vessels, who came to the coast to trade with the people, to pay duties, just as he did the mercantile firms that were settled on the coast.
The staple industry of the people along Labrador in the area where my
work carried me, was fishing with hunting for furs as an auxiliary; and the residents went inland as far as was necessary for the latter purpose.
These conditions continue, I think, practically unaltered down to the present day.
I make the foregoing satement voluntarily, verily believing it to be true, according to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.
Dated at St. John's, Newfoundland,
Witness: P. T. MCGRATH.