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(A Transcription of)









Published by









Transcribed by:
Peter M. Godfrey
Clarenville, NF.
April - May 2002





Overview of the Island of Newfoundland


NEWFOUNDLAND (or Terre-Neuve), England’s most ancient Colony, is a large island in the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is separated from Canada on the west and south-west by the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and on the north-west by the Straits of Belle Isle, distant but nine miles at its narrowest points from the shores of Labrador. It’s south-west point approaches Cape Breton, about a seven hours run for a steamer. It is bounded on the east and south by the Atlantic. It lies in the highway of traffic between the old and the new world, and is nearer to Europe than any other part of America. St. John’s, the capital and most eastern projection, is but 1,640 miles from Valencia in Ireland, and from its position could be made the Gibraltar of the west, and an outlying fortress for Canada. Newfoundland forms an irregularly shaped triangle, deeply indented with numerous bays and harbours, and surrounded with innumerable islands, and has a coast line of about 2000 miles. Its greatest width, between Cape Anguille and Cape Spear, is 317 miles; its greatest length, between Cape Ray and Cape Bauld, is about 316 miles; total area 42,200 square miles. The principal bays are: Conception, Trinity, Bonavista, Notre Dame, White, and Hare on the east and north-east coasts; Bonne Bay, Bay of Islands, Port au Port Bay, Bay St. George on the west coast; Fortune, Placentia, St. Mary’s Bay and Trepassey Bays on the south coast. There are also numerous smaller bays and harbours, many of which are extensive, commodious and well sheltered, with numerous rivers and rivulets running into them.

The opening up of the country by the inauguration of the Reid Newfoundland Co’s. Railway system has been the chief factor in revealing the natural wealth of the interior hitherto unknown. The railway extends from St. John’s to Port aux Basques, and continues from Placentia Junction, round to principal bays on the east to Exploits on the north, thence across the country, taking in Grand Lake and Deer Lake to Bay of Islands on the west coast, thence south taking in Bay St. George to Port aux Basques, the terminus, some 550 miles.

Branch Railway Lines ­ Branch lines extend to Harbour Grace, 83 miles; Placentia, 84 miles, and to Brigus, Lewisporte, Board Cove, etc. The Colonial Legislature contracted with the Reid Nfld. Company for the construction of five branch lines of railway, connecting with the Trunk Line across the island. The first of these, extending from Clarenville through the Bonavista Peninsula, opened in 1911. The construction of branches to Heart’s Content, on the south side of Trinity Bay, and from St. John’s to Trepassey, near Cape Race, is under way. On their completion the rails will be extended from Carbonear, on the north side of Conception Bay, to Grate’s Point, the extremity of that peninsula; and branches are also to be built from the main line to the head of Fortune Bay and from Deer Lake to Bonne Bay. These will make up an increase mileage of about miles, and will bring virtually every section of the island into direct communication with the trans-insular line through the agency of the railway system and the connecting steamers, besides opening up new areas to sportsman and tourist.





How to Reach the Island ­ Newfoundland and Labrador are no longer unknown lands. The traveller can reach Newfoundland from any point in Canada or the United States with ease and comfort. All railways, steamship and tourist agents issue tickets via the Reid-Newfoundland system. The Intercolonial Railway express trains connect at North Sydney, C.B. with the Reid-Newfoundland Co’s. fine steamers, connecting at Port-aux-Basques (a daily service between North Sydney and Port-aux-Basques will be inaugurated in 1912) with the railway, which conveys the angler and deer-stalker direct to the salmon rivers and caribou grounds.

As a health resort this sea-girt isle affords a welcome escape from the burning heat of summer; its scenery is novel and attractive; and its bracing, exhilarating air imparts new vigor to the frame and sends back the smoke-dried denizens of great cities with new life and energy. In fine summer days the heat is never oppressive and the nights are always cool. There is something particularly balmy, soothing and yet invigorating in the summer breezes, whether on sea or land.

The barrens of Newfoundland which occupy the interior on the summits of hills and ridges are covered with scrubby vegetation, berry-bearing plants and dwarf bushes. These barrens are the home of the caribou, and lovers of the gun will find enough to satisfy them in the exciting sport of deer-hunting.

The rivers are numerous, some of them attain magnificent proportions. The largest are the Humber, Exploits, Gander, Terra Nova, the Codroy and St. George. The Humber, flowing into the Bay of Islands, is about 80 miles long, and is navigable about 15 miles for large vessels. The Exploits, about 200 miles long, and navigable about 30 miles, discharges itself into Exploits Bay, draining about 4000 square miles of country. It abounds with salmon and trout, and its banks are well wooded. The Gander, 100 miles long, discharges itself into Hamilton Sound. The Terra Nova river is a large river flowing into Alexander and Bonavista Bays. The Codroy, on the west coast, flowing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is a broad stream. Its banks and valleys furnish pasture land which unequalled. The river St. George, on the west coast, flows into a bay of the same name, and receives a smaller stream called Harry’s Brook.

The lakes and ponds are said to cover a surface nearly one-third of the Island. Grand Lake, 56 miles long by five miles wide, with an area of 200 square miles, contains an island (Glovers Island) in its southern end, 21 miles long by 2 broad, and is drained by the River Humber. Coal has been discovered in the vicinity. Red Indian Lake, 37 miles by 3 miles, with an area of 69 square miles, is drained by the Exploits. Gander Lake, which is 36 miles long, has an area of 44 square miles and is drained by the Gander River. Deer Lake, about 15 miles long by 3 broad, is drained by the Humber River; on its banks can be found large tracts of agricultural and timber lands.

Immense quantities of copper ore and iron pyrites have been shipped from Bett’s Cove, Tilt Cove, Sutle Bay, and Pelley’s Island, as well as iron from Bell Island. Lead, antimony, gold, iron, silver, nickle, and zinc are also found. Coal beds have been discovered in St. George’s Bay and near the Grand Lake. Granite, limestone, sandstone, marble, slate and brick clay are also abundant. Asbestos is also found.





The principal trees are pine, spruce, birch, larch, willow, ash and fir, some of which attain considerable size. Agriculture is carried on in several sections of the island, especially in the valleys of the rivers, and in the neighbourhood of the lakes. Potatoes yield well and are of excellent quality. Green crops thrive in many places, and kitchen-garden produce cannot be excelled in quality and flavour. Gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries are grown in large quantities.

The Newfoundland Dog ­­ famous the world over, as also of "Land-sea" fame ­­ is becoming very scarce, in fact few of the genuine breed are to be found.

Among the wild animals may be enumerated the deer (caribou), wolf, bear (black and polar), fox (black, silver, grey and red), beaver, otter, marten, wild cat, muskrat, and arctic hare. Rabbits are numerous.

Land and sea birds are plentiful, the principal ones being the grebe or sea eagle, hawks, owls, kingfisher, robin, sparrow, raven, ptarmigan (called partridge), plover, curlew, snipe, black duck, wild goose, gannet, and the loon (or great northern diver).

Seals are numerous, also whales, grampuses and porpoises. The cod of course abounds, and no place can be compared to Newfoundland for this commodity. Herring, salmon, halibut, turbot, caplin and squid, the latter used for bait, are in abundance. Lobsters are also abundant, and the canned article now constitute a very valuable export.

The famous Banks of Newfoundland, viz. the Grand Bank, Outer Bank and St. Peter’s Bank, swarm with cod and fish of all kinds. They form the most extensive elevation existing in any ocean, and occupy 6º long. and nearly 10º lat., being 600 miles in length and 200 miles in breadth, with a depth of water from 10 to 160 fathoms. The Labrador Fishery is engaged in during the months of June, July, August, September and part of October, and as many as 20,000 men are employed during these months. The value of the catch is estimated at about $1,125,000. The seal fishery is next in importance and employing thousands of men.

The Imports of Newfoundland consist of all articles used for food and clothing, as well as for domestic and fishing purposes. The Exports from Newfoundland and Labrador are: Dried codfish, herring, cod oil, seal oil, seal skins, pickled salmon, preserved salmon and lobsters, copper, iron, iron pyrites, lumber, etc.

The following is the Steamship connections, viz. ­­

Allan Line (Shea & Co.) Between St. John’s and Glasgow fortnightly during season, April to December, touching at Halifax and Philadelphia.

Red Cross Line (Harvey & Co.) S.S. Stephano and S.S. Florizel between St. John’s, Halifax and New York fortnightly.

Black Diamond Line (Harvey & Co.) S.S. Bonavista and Rosalind between Montreal and St. John’s via Charlottetown, P.E.I., and Sydney, Cape Breton fortnightly.

The Coastal Royal Mail Steamers fortnightly north and west, connecting with several Bay Steamers and the Labrador Steamer.

Reid-Newfoundland Co’s. steamers encircle the Island, including Labrador.





The public affairs of the Island are administered by a Governor and Executive Council of seven members, a Legislative Council of 14 members, and a Legislative Assembly of 36 representatives. The Judicial Department comprises a Supreme Court with a chief and 2 assistant judges, a Vice-Admiralty court and district courts, also circuit courts.

The Public School system is based on the denominational principle, the grant from the general revenues for educational purposes being appropriated to the schools of the different denominations, according to population. This system seems to be objectionable in the smaller places, where sometimes three schools will be found among a few hundred people, none of which have the means of providing a competent teacher. Higher education is provided through colleges supported from the general education grant, and by tuition fees, and conducted denominationally, Bishop Feild and Bishop Spencer Colleges (Episcopalian); St. Bonaventure College (Roman Catholic); besides Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army Colleges. St. John’s is an examining centre for degrees of the London University.

The inhabitants of the Island are principally descendants of the settlers from England, Ireland and Scotland. The aboriginal inhabitants, known as Beastries [sic], have been extinct for many years. There are still a few Micmacs on the Island.

Newfoundland is supposed to have been discovered by Northmen about the year 1000. It was rediscovered by Sir John Cabot and his son, Sebastian, on the 24th June, 1497. A settlement was subsequently formed by some Portuguese adventurers, who were expelled by Sir Francis Drake, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. After this period numerous English colonies were established from time to time along the eastern coast, and several French along the southern, in the Bay of Placentia. For a series of years the colony existed merely as a fishing settlement, and was much disputed by the French, until, in 1713, it was declared by the Treaty of Utrecht to belong wholly to Great Britain, the French reserving a right to fish on certain parts of the coast; the rocky islets of St. Pierre and Miquelon being also assigned to them, on condition that they should not be used for military purposes. The first governor of the Island, Captain Osborne, was appointed in 1729, and the first legislative assembly met on the first of January, 1832.

Newfoundland has telegraphic communication with the old world by means of four submarine cables connecting between Heart’s Content, in Trinity Bay (100 miles from St. John’s), and Valentia in Ireland, about 1,640 miles; also with the new world by means of submarine cable from Heart’s Content to North Sydney, about 360 miles, where a connection is made with the Western Union system.

In 1876 the Labrador, extending from Cape Chidley (Hudson’s Straits) to Blanc Sablon (Straits of Belle Isle), including Hamilton Basin, was included into the Colony of Newfoundland. Area about 120,000 square miles. Population somewhat over 4000. Chief town, Battle Harbor. The total population of Newfoundland, including Labrador, was shown by the 1903 census to be 220,984. The present population (1911) is estimated at 250,000.









Districts ­ Newfoundland is sub-divided into the following 18 political districts, viz. ­

Bay de Verde
Burgeo and LaPoile
Harbour Grace
Harbour Main
Placentia and St. Mary's
Port de Grave
St. Barbe
St. George
St. John's East
St. John's West
Chief Town
Western Bay
Harbour Briton [sic]
Harbour Grace
Harbour Main
Great Placentia
Bonne Bay
St. John's
Population of Cities and Incorporated Towns, 1911*
St. John’s . . . . . . . . . . . . 29,594  Great Placentia . . . . . . . .. 1,315
Harbor Grace . . . . . . . . . .. 5,184  Channel . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 1,280
Carbonear . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,706  Brigus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,162
Bonavista . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,696  Bonne Bay . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,137
Twillingate . . . . . . . . . . . . .3,542  Fogo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,118
Burin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,519  Heart’s Content . . . . . . . 1,075
Bay Roberts . . . . . . . . . . .. 2,226  Change Islands . . . . . . . 1,067
Torbay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,495  Western Bay . . . . . . . . . 965
Trinity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,459  Conception Harbor . . . . . 932
Grand Bank . . . . . . . . . . 1,427  Harbor Main . . . . . . . . . . 798
St. George . . . . . . . . . . . 1,409  Harbor Briton . . . . . . . . .. 763
Tilt Cove . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,370  Ferryland . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 535
Greenspond . . . . . . . . . . 1,352  Codroy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 532
*The Newfoundland statistics are those of 1901 which will be useful for
comparison with the census for 1911 now being taken.


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Page Transcribed by Peter Godfrey (May 2002)

Page Revised by Craig Peterman (January 2003)

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