APPLICATION, 2 JUNE, 1775, OF WM. BURGESS FOR GRANT OF ST. MODET AND ANSE-A-LOUP.
ARCHIVES OF CANADA, SERIES Q 11, FOLIO 141.
Whitehall, June 2, 1775.
[DARTMOUTH TO CARLETON, Enclosing an application from Wm. Burgess, a merchant of London. applying for a grant of land beginning at Island point to the northward of Pettit Modest crossing the river Des francais southward to a point of land called Ance au Loup including the islands of Grand and Pettit St Modeste. The Canada merchants assure Burgess that no grant has been made of this territory.
In his letter of transmittal, Dartmouth says that he would recommend Burgess for such countenance and protection as shall correspond with the rules Carleton may think fit to adopt for the better ordering and governing the fisheries and possessions on that Coast.]
To the right honorable the Earl of Dartmouth one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State—
The Memorial of William Burgess
Merchant of London.
That your Memorialist having been for some years concern'd in the fishery on the Coast of Labrador, under the control of the Governor of Newfoundland is in a great measure prevented carrying his undertakings to any Extent unless favor'd by Government with a Grant of Land ; because on that part of Labrador for which he now petitions—to obtain seals & other animals that breed in those seas—it is necessary to keep a settlement the year round to be ready for the opening of the Ice in the Spring inhabited by a number of Settlers & to build such places for shelter as may secure them from the Inclemency of the weather & the Encroachments & depredations of the Indians [Eskimo] who wander about that Country & who have at times cut off many people, which might have been averted by this plan of Settlement.
Your Memorialist begs leave to represent, that to accomplish his design, he must be at a considerable expence to raise those Buildings, victual & cloath the people & the only chance he can see of reimbursing this Expense is by a
Grant confirming it to his, securing a certain possession—& that this design when put into execution will he of great advantage to the Commerce of this Nation, as the produce of it will be a supply of Oils for the Lamps of the metropolis & other cities of the Kingdom—Sealskins &c.—besides the shipping & Seamen necessary for carrying it on from hence.
The Situation your Memorialist petitions for is on the Coast of Labrador, beginning at Island point to the Northward of pettit Modeste crossing the river Desfraneois Southward to a point of Land call'd Ance au Loup including the small Islands of grand & pettit St. Modeste.
The coast is inhospitable & the Islands barren sands unfit for cultivation.
Your Memorialist humbly hopes that your Lordship will consider the reasonableness of his plea & grant him his petition.
London, May 1775.
B[urgess] has enquired of the Canada Merchants & at the plantation office, if any Grant had already been made, he is inform'd not & knows it to be so as his Vessels have those two Last Summers attempted the fishery on that spot—& if the old Canadian subjects had any claim—the merchants say no, as the old settlers have never made a progress—so far to the Eastward of Quebec-tho' he cannot succeed without a Grant for reasons stated, yet notwithstanding the whole concern wod center in London in sanie manner as if it cod be carried on without that Grant.
Endorsed : Memorial of William Burgess,
Merchant of London
Copy sent to Gov.r Carleton in Lord Dartmouth's
Letter of June 2.d 1775.
EXTRACT FROM REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON GRIEVANCES, LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL OF CANADA, 1849.
SESSIONAL PAPERS NO. 3. REFERRED TO IN THE EIGhTH VOLUME OF THE JOURNALS OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL OF THE PROVINCE OF CANADA, VOL. 8, APP. LLLL., 1849.
Antoine Talbot, of the Parish of Berthier, County of Bellechasse, and District of Quebec, mariner, having been duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists, deposeth and saith :—From the year 1838, to the the spring of the year 1846,
I possessed, as proprietor, an establishment1 on the Coast of Labrador, where I carried on the cod, seal, and herring fishery : I had bought this establishment in the year 1838, from a certain James Dumaresq, for the sum of forty pounds sterling, which I duly paid him in money. During that period of time, I was always recognized by all the fishermen of the coast as sole proprietor of the said establishment, where I made generally above three hundred pounds currency net profit each year, so that although I had taken this establishment with very limited means, I improved it considerably and augmented my stock of fishing tackle, which were worth in the spring of the said year, 1846, about eighteen hundred pounds currency. With these means, I was then capable of carrying on the fishery on a tolerably large scale, and could expect to make larger profits than I had hitherto made. In the spring of the said year, 1846, I left Berthier with twenty-three men whom I had engaged to conduct my establishment. Before I had arrived, a certain William Henry Ellis had taken it by force, having broken in the doors of my buildings and driven away the person I had left in charge, to take care of my effects and fishing implements ; I called on the said Ellis to give me up my property and effects, but obtained nothing but menaces ; he even struck me, telling me to leave the place immediately unless I wished him to take my life ; the said Ellis had with him. about sixty men. I retired with my hired men on board my schooner, and as it was impossible for me to regain my property by force, with the small number of men I had, I was obliged to keep away.
In order not to lose the fishing season entirely, I employed my men in fishing on board my schooner, and returned to Quebec in the autumn, with the few fish I had taken, the produce of which was not sufficient to pay the wages of my men. I had then lost nearly the whole of my summer, as well as the store of fishing implements, and also my establishment, as I have above stated.
In the hope that the said Ellis would at least leave me my establishment, with the buildings I had thereon erected, I went down to Labrador in the following spring, with some fishermen I had engaged at Berthier ; I then took possession of my buildings which were unoccupied, and repaired the said establishment for the fishery ; but about three weeks afterwards, the said Ellis arrived with twenty-eight men, and again drove me away ; I was thus obliged to take refuge on board my schooner, where I employed to the best of my means the few men I had, in the same manner as the preceding summer, fishing on board my schooner.
On my insisting upon entering my buildings, I was nearly killed by Ellis's gang, one of whom tried to shoot me with a gun ; Ellis' people even cut the cables with which I had moored my schooner to the shore. I returned to Quebec in autumn after suffering considerable loss. Not being able to make up my mind to abandon a property on which I had expended all I possessed, and the enjoyment of which might ensure to me considerable profits, I again went down to Labrador last spring, with some men I had
1 Later, Talbot stated that his post was Isle St. Modette [St. Modet.]
engaged, but I still found the said Ellis in possession of my property, and again had to lose nearly my whole time in fishing on board my schooner. On the 10th of August, Her Majesty's ship the “ Alarm,” commanded by the Hon. Granville Gower Loch, Companion of the Bath, having touched at the place I was at, I went on board of the vessel, and laid my complaint before its Commander, who condemned the said Ellis to restore to me immediately my said establishment, as well as the effects he had taken from me ; this took place on the 16th of time said month, but the said ship having left the coast, the said Ellis returned me nothing ; he retained my said establishment as well as all my effects, and I returned to Quebec this autumn, with the produce of a fishery insufficient to cover my expenses. The losses I experienced in the manner stated, nearly ruined me. I have also to state that I know no authorities whatsoever on the Labrador coast to whom I could have applied to render me justice ; that the nearest Court of Justice to my establishment, is at St. Johns, Newfoundland, which is about 150 leagues from my post.
I have, moreover, to state, that a great part of the Labrador coast is exposed to aggressions similar to those I have described, by the crews of above 1500 vessels, which arrive annually on this coast.
(Signed,) ANTOINE TALBOT.
Sworn in my presence, at
Quebec, the 5th of January, 1849.
(Signed,) L. FISET,
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE.