EXTRACTS FROM REPORT OF AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE COAST OF LABRADOR BY THE GOVERNOR OF NEWFOUNDLAND (SIR WILLIAM MACGREGOR), 1905.*
The summer and the winter populations of Labrador are very different owing to the fact that a great many families proceed from Newfoundland to that coast for about four months, from some time in June to some time in October, for the summer fishery. I am indebted to Mr. Le Messurier (who it may be mentioned, has personal knowledge of the coast of Labrador) for information on that point. During the season last past 14,229 persons cleared from Newfoundland ports for the Labrador fishery. The same gentleman estimates “ that 6,000 or 7,000 people who, in the early part of the year fish on the treaty coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, go direct to Labrador without clearing for there, and on the yearly fishing certificates issued to them in the spring.” The largest number cleared during the last twelve years was in 1894, viz., 14,651. The smallest number was in 1900, viz., 10,679. The mean number annually cleared for the last twelve years is 12,333. The total average number of people that proceed to Labrador for the summer fishery would therefore be about one score thousand, but that number was considerably exceeded last year. To this has to be added 4,000 residents. (The number given in the 1901 census is 3,947). The summer population of Labrador may therefore be fairly set down in round numbers at from 20,000 to 25,000 ; the winter population at 4,000. Of these, as shown above, some 1,300 are native Innuit, or “ settlers,” about Mission settlements.
At the present time Labrador has no direct representation in the Legislature of the Colony, nor is it the special duty of any Minister of the Crown to make any specific study of the requirements of that dependency. One may say unhesitatingly that it would have been better for Labrador, and for the Colony, that more attention had been given to this question many years ago. The matter of representation has indeed been brought up before now in a direct form. Nothing, however, came of it.
*Journal of Assembly, Nfld., 1907, App., p. 361.