EXTRACT FROM “LABRADOR FISHERIES, 1892-1924.”
BY WILFRED T. GRENFELL, C.M.G., F.A.C.S., M.A., M.D., F.R.S.C., LL.D., MASTER MARINER AND JUSTICE OF THE PEACE.
Written at Capbreton,
Aug. 15, 1924.
Concerning land needed to supply timber for fishery purposes.
There are no roads in Labrador, and no means for wheeled transportation. It has, therefore, never paid the Newfoundland fishermen to haul and cut their own timber needed for stages at any great distance from the high water mark.
The custom has been to buy it from Labrador men, who cut it in winter and haul it out to the landwash with dogs over snow.
This also applies to firewood, though schooners, while waiting to get north (for ice etc.) go long distances up bays to get timber which there still grows so near the landwash, that they can cut it for themselves.
Since the nearness of timber to the landwash recedes as one goes north, it is obviously impossible to draw any line that would be suitable for all
regions. North of Cape Mugford, wood is not cut by Newfoundlanders at all ; north of Hebron there is none to cut.
So if a summer fisherman must cut wood during summer, he must cut it within a mile of the landwash for obvious reasons.
On the other hand he must be able to get wood, and those who cut it and sell it to him, must be allowed to go five miles from the landwash in search of timber for spars, or large frame work in almost any part of Labrador, if they are to find it.
On the distance from high water needed in Labrador for purposes other than obtaining wood, for fishermen.
There being no roads, it is obvious all buildings of fishermen for summer fisheries will be as near the water as possible. I know every building in Labrador, and I cannot think of one single one that is more than 250 yards from high water mark, or one that ever has been. With regard to spreading nets, and drying fish, it is perfectly obvious that the nearer the water the
better, if clean rocks and safety from seas are provided. I do not remember anytime, anywhere, seeing either of these objects pursued over 250 yards from high water 500 yards would be quite sufficient. Even of our six hospitals, inclusive of the three in Newfoundland, not one is 250 yards from the high water mark.
Eskimo, Indians, natives are in an entirely different category. They must have winter houses, and these must be in, or near, woods. Distance from high water no longer matters, for good transportation is afforded by sledges over the snow and ice the bare ground is no longer their method of transportation, also, they may need houses, near their wood cutting work, or their fur paths.
Personal opinion on the distances from high water needed in Labrador for fishery purposes.
For spreading fish to dry, for buildings, for boats, and other storage, judging by experience, not more than 250 yards is needed, or is likely to be used if available.
For cutting timber for firewood, spars and frames for buildings and stages, the distance in a country like Labrador would vary very much, if it were possible in summer to get it out. Thus, north of Hebron no timber exists till the valley of the Georges river is reached,—say 50 miles, while in Lewis' bay and southern bays it still comes to the landwash at the heads of bays.
It would never, in my opinion, pay to hold up a fishing schooner to get spars from our Labrador forests in summer. I have known vessels dismasted many times, but I never knew this attempted. The only way is to buy spars from natives, or ship spars in by mail steamer from south. Our trees make miserable spars anyhow, being too full of knots.
As there has existed in Newfoundland a reserved limit of three miles above high water for the purposes of the fishery, it is fair to suppose that that as a general average is not excessive. Labrador timber is not so plentiful or near the water, and if timber cut by settlers of the Labrador for sale in summer, but cut during winter, is to be all cut on the reserve, then I am sure five miles from high tide mark is not excessive.