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(A Transcription of)
(GAZETTEER SECTION ONLY)
J. R. SMALLWOOD
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Peter M. Godfrey
Newfoundland is a triangular-shaped island lying at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, of which is sometimes “the Sentinel.”
It is separated from the American mainland, at the narrowest point in the North in the Straits of Belle Isle, by 9 miles; and from the mainland in the South by 60 miles (the Cabot Strait).
The island at its greatest length from north to south is 316 miles, from east to west 317 miles.
It is 42,000 square miles in area. Its dependency in Labrador is 110,000 square miles in area. The two together, with 152,000 square miles, have an area greater than the three Canadian Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island combined, with over 100,000 square miles to spare; or greater than the combined American states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Indiana and Maine; or greater than the combined European nations, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Belgium and Ireland, with many thousands of square miles to spare.
The island’s coastline is 6,000 miles. That of Newfoundland Labrador is 1200 miles.
From the extreme northerly boundary of Newfoundland Labrador to the extreme southerly boundary of Newfoundland itself is a distance fronting on the Atlantic Ocean of 1,500 miles, which is only slightly less than the length of United States Coast fronting on the Atlantic.
About one-eighth of the island’s surface is covered by lakes, ponds and rivers.
Grand Lake and Red Indian Lake are the principal bodies of freshwater. The former has an area 200 square miles, that of the latter 67 square miles.
The longest river is the Exploits, 200 miles, 30 miles of it navigable. The Gander River is 100 miles long. Others are: Humber, 80 miles; Terra Nova 80; Gambo, 60.
The highest amounted in the island is Gros Morne, 2,540 feet.
In Newfoundland Labrador lakes are much larger, the rivers considerably longer and wider, and the mountains higher than in Newfoundland.
The population of Newfoundland, together with Labrador, is in 1941 estimated at roughly 300, 000.
The capital of the country is St. John’s, with an estimated population approaching 45,000.
The rest of the population is scattered in more than 1300 settlements and towns, all of which more than 90 % are situated along the coast. With the exceptions of Grand Falls, Bishop’s Falls, Buchans and Deer Lake, there are very few inland towns or settlements.
The government of Newfoundland has been under seven forms:
1. Fishing Admirals. The master of the first English fishing vessel arriving each spring at any coastal port became, for that season, Admiral of that port; the second arrival the Vice Admiral, and the third Rear Admiral. They were answerable, very loosely, to the officer commanding the naval convoy ships which came here in the summer to patrol the coast and convoy the vessels across the Atlantic in the autumn. St. John’s, which almost from the beginning has been the island’s capital, was usually governed by the commandant of the military garrison. He bore the title of “Governor,” and in his absence during the winter the officer he left in charge was known as “Lieutenant Governor.”
2. Governors. In 1729 this system was partially superseded by the appointing of a Governor of Newfoundland with a Royal Commission under Letters Patent and Royal Instructions. He resided at St. John’s, but a few governors visited some of the coast. He came in the late spring and returned to England with the convoy in the autumn. He was invariably the Commodore of the naval convoy fleet. In 1818 the Governor was required to live all the year-round in Newfoundland.
3. Governor and Council. In 1825 single-handed rule by the Governor was modified by the creation of the sort of Advisory Council. The members of the Council were selected by the Governor and immediately answerable to him.
4. Representative Government. In 1832 Representative Government came. There was an elective Lower House, with an Upper House consisting of members selected and appointed by the Governor. This is actually the old advisory council glorified somewhat, and the Government consisted mainly of the Governor and this Legislative Council, or Upper House. The Government was in no sense or degree responsible to the popular assembly.
5. Amalgamated Government. This was instituted in 1843 and lasted until 1848. It was a crude attempt to combine the institution of Representative Government with Responsible Government without conceding the latter. Both Houses set together.
6. Responsible Government. This commenced in 1855 and was superseded in 1934. Under it there continued to the lower or elective House and the Upper House or Legislative Council. The Government, which was formed by the leader of the majority party in the popular chamber, was responsible to that House, and could stand only as long as it enjoyed confidence of elected representatives.
7. Commission Government. Under new Letters Patent and Royal Instructions Newfoundland is ruled by the Governor (who is appointed by the King as always in the past) assisted by a Commission of Government, the members of which are also pointed by the King upon the advice of the Dominions Office. Three of the six Commissioners are to come from United Kingdom, their salaries being paid by the United Kingdom, and three from Newfoundland, which pays them. The administration of public affairs is carried on by six departments, over each of which a Commissioner resides. Matters of general interest are handled by the Commission of Government as a whole, with the Governor presiding. All decisions of the Commission of Government maybe reviewed and, presumably, vetoed, by the Dominions Office. The Commission of Government is required to submit an annual general report of its work to Dominions Office, which in turn presents it to the British Parliament.
The suspension of Responsible Government and of the Letters Patent which guaranteed it is stated in the new and present Letters Patent to be temporary. Responsible Government is to be restored (a) when the country become self-supporting again, and (b) upon request of the people of Newfoundland.
Only two towns have their own municipal government: St. John’s, the capital, and Windsor, which was formerly known as Grand Falls Station S a suburb of Grand Falls. In St. John’s a mayor and six councillors are elected for four years. In Windsor, a committee and chairman thereof, are elected for regular terms.
1. The author, J.R. Smallwood, indicates that this issue of the Gazetteer “now contains all places [in Newfoundland and Labrador] with a population of 25 or more.”
2. Smallwood very often uses the word “country.” He is, of course, referring to Newfoundland which, at that time, was indeed a separate “country” in the British Empire.
KEY TO GAZETTEER
Population: Census of 1935.
Distances: Except where otherwise stated, these are by water, following the routes of the Coastal Steamships. Because of their often indirect routes, these are usually longer than the straight-line distance between the two points named, often considerably so.
PO: Post Office alone, without Telegraph or Money Order.
POMO: Post Office, with Money Order.
P.T.: Post and Telegraph Office, with Money Order. A complete office.
Post. Sav. Bank: Postal Savings Bank.
LT: Local Telephone, connecting with larger place.
R. Tel.: Railway Telegraph.
Cottage Hosp.: Cottage Hospital.
Customs: Customs Officer. This means that it is a port of entry for customs purposes.
Radios: The figures given represent only those upon which the radio license fee of $2 per year has been paid. In many cases the actual number is larger than that shown. The total number of radios on which the fee was paid in 1940 is around 19,000, as compared with 12,000 in 1939. The number of radios in the country might not be many less than 30,000.
M.H.O.: Medical health Officer.
Nursing Cent.: Nursing Centre of Dept. of Public Health and Welfare.
Lumbering/ Lumbering means sawmill operations and cutting sawmill logs.
Logging: Logging means cutting logs for pulpwood or pit-props.
H.B. Co. Post: Hudson’s Bay Co. fur-trading post.
Bacalieu: [The names of] Coastal steamers carrying passengers, mail and freight [visiting indicated community].
Transcribed by Peter Godfrey (April 2003)
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