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Business Directories of Newfoundland - 1864 to 1949

An Overview of Directories Available as a Genealogical Resource

Over the years, starting in 1864-65, business directories have been periodically published for Newfoundland. Most of the earliest directories were published by several private Canadian based publishing concerns, such as Hutchinson, McAlpine or Lovell. Later on, other directories were published by local Newfoundland business firms such as Devine and O'Mara of St. John's. While the main purpose of these directories was to provide advertising for businesses, professionals, and trades firms, the contents of these directories has provided us with a valuable genealogical resource. This overview covers a span of over seven decades of our evolution from a colony to a province It is interesting to note than even though confederation with Canada had been soundly rejected in the 1869 Newfoundland election, early directories refer to us as the "Province of Newfoundland". However, Newfoundland did not actually become Canada's tenth province until March 31, 1949.

While generally focused on the city of St. John's and a few other principal towns and settlements, some earlier directories covered the entire island of Newfoundland. In addition to their business content, lists of individual homeowners were provided, plus diverse information about the structure of governmental, religious and civil institutions. Where individual homeowners were listed, generally only the male head of the household (of voting age) and occupation was given. Some directories listed females, but only if they were widowed heads of households, or businesswomen, teachers, postmistresses, etc. In focused areas, eg. St. John's city, the listings sometimes included not only the head of the household, but also other employed members of the family who "boarded" there.

From 1919 onward, in addition to the alphabetized surname listing, most St. John's directories also provided listings by street name and house number. Some directories were compiled to serve as both a directory and gazetteer. In other instances, such as with the 1898 McAlpine's Directory of Newfoundland, a separate gazetteer was published giving detailed information about the Newfoundland towns and settlements listed in that Directory.

The directories on the NGB website were transcribed by volunteers, as accurately as possible, mainly from paper copies or images of the original printed directories. However, based on an analysis of these originals, it is evident that the compilers had some difficulties with the correct identification, spelling, and placement of the many locations into their respective districts. In addition it appears that errors may have been introduced into the final printed document, likely during the typesetting process.

In some cases ink bleeding or smear may be a problem, especially with small print . For example, a common Newfoundland surname such as Maher may appear to be spelled Maber in the printed document. While this error may occurred during typesetting, it may also be due to ink migration at the bottom of the letter h. Of course, the transcription of this surname (as it appears to be printed) means that a researcher, using an Internet search engine to find the surname Maher, will not find the accurately transcribed, but directory mispelled/smeared, entries for the surname. For that reason, it is recommended that researchers should compare the settlement/location of interest in the transcribed copies against the printed original pages. This might help determine if the family surname was misspelled, either in the printed copy, or the transcribed copy. The compiler's spelling/handwriting too may have been at fault but, unfortunately, that cannot be verified since the hand-written originals have not survived.

There are a number of repositories that have collections of the original directories, either in a paper, microfilm, or digital image format. However, the extent of these holdings tends to vary from location to location. We recommend that it would be wise to make a telephone call prior to a visit to verify what a location actually has, its accessibility, office hours, etc.

Physical Repositories with Paper Originals

Here are a number of repositories that have copies of various directories in their collections. There may be copies at other centers, so a telephone call to your local library should determine what documents are available in your local area.

P1/ The Rooms Provincial Archives; 9 Bonaventure Avenue; P.O. Box 1800, Station C; St. John's, NL, Canada; A1C 5P9; Tel: (709) 757-8030; Fax: (709) 757-8031; E-Mail: archives@the rooms.ca

P2/ The Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador; 50 Pippy Place - Unit 16B, St. John’s, NL Canada; A1B 3M7; Tel: (709) 754 – 9525; Fax: (709) 754 – 6430; Email: fhs@fhsnl.ca

P3/ Centre for Newfoundland Studies; Queen Elizabeth II Library; Memorial University of Newfoundland; St. John's, NL, Canada; A1B 3Y1 Telephone:(709) 864-7475/6; Fax: (709) 864-2153; Email: cnsqeii@mun.ca

P4/ AC Hunter Public Library; Newfoundland & Labrador Collection; Arts and Culture Centre; 125 Allandale Road; St. John's, NL, Canada; A1B 3A3; Telephone: (709) 737 3955; Fax: (709) 737-3958

P5/ City of St. John's Archives; P.O. Box 908, St. John's, NL, Canada; A1C 5M2; Tel: (709) 576-8167 Fax: (709) 576-8254; Street Address:3rd Floor, 495 Water Street; St. John's, NL; E-mail: archives@stjohns.ca

Website Repositories with Digitized Originals

In addition to the physical repositories, there are a number of websites that have digitized images of the printed originals. One such site is the Our Roots / Nos Racines, a bilingual Canadian website. I found these Newfoundland directories posted there.

R1/ Hutchinson's Newfoundland Directory for 1864-65

R2/ McAlpine's Maritime Provinces Directory for 1870-71

R3/ Lovell's Province of Newfoundland Directory 1871

R4/ Business and General Directory of Newfoundland 1877

Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative (DAI) website also has digital images of various Newfoundland directories. I found the following directories on their website:

M1/ Hutchinson's Newfoundland Directory for 1864-65

M2/ McAlpine's Maritime Provinces Directory for 1870-1871

M3/ Lovell's Province of Newfoundland Directory 1871

M4/ Business and general directory of Newfoundland 1877

M5/ McAlpine's Newfoundland directory, 1894 to 1897

M6/ McAlpine's Newfoundland directory, 1898

M7/ McAlpine's Newfoundland Directory, 1904

M8/ McAlpine's Newfoundland Directory, 1908-09

 

 

 

Newfoundland Directories and Repository Cross-References

Year(s) Directory Contents Repository
1864-65 Hutchinson's Directory of Newfoundland Author: Hutchinson, Thomas; Publisher: McConnan, Thomas; St. John's, Newfoundland. (380 pages)
According to local newspapers, the collection of information for this directory was started by a "Mr. McAlpine" about July 1864. It includes listings for the city of St. John's (p.65) and other main towns and settlements (p. 237) on the island of Newfoundland. It does not include any settlements that were then part of the French Shore or Labrador.

The listing criteria appears inconsistent throughout the directory for the settlements surveyed. In some areas, it appears to list all male heads of households, regardless of occupation. In other areas, the only individuals listed were those employed in mercantile operations or professional occupations. The only females listed were widows, professionals, or those who were operating their own businesses. However, here again this criteria seems to differ from area to area throughout the directory.
P1
P4
M1
1870-71 McAlpine's Maritime Provinces Directory
(Newfoundland - approx. 196 pages)
Publisher: McAlpine, David; Halifax, Nova Scotia
The sections of this directory pertaining to Newfoundland are actually part of McAlpine’s Maritime Provinces Directory for 1870-71, which also included Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. The Newfoundland content is comprised of several sections:
p. 175-176 - (Table of) Contents.
p. 193-195 - General Index to St. Johns City (N.F.) Advertisers; Index to Newfoundland District Advertisements; Classified Index to Carbonear and Harbour Grace Advertisements.
p. 1103-1106 - Historical Sketch.
p. 1107-1170 - St. Johns City Directory (by alphabetized head of household).
p. 1171-1200,1272 - St Johns Business Directory.
p. 1201-1271 - Newfoundland Districts Directory (by alphabetized place-name and head of household).
p. 1273-1294 - Appendix to Newfoundland Directory; contains information pertaining to government members and officials, government departments, postal information, civil and religious institutions, schools, etc.

This directory contains a listing of most Newfoundland settlements, including those that were still part of the French Shore. Settlements, along the Straits, in southern Labrador are also listed. Females listed were usually widows, professionals, or those who were operating their own businesses.
P2
P4
R2
M2
1871 Lovell's Province of Newfoundland Directory Publisher: Lovell, John; Montreal, Quebec
This Newfoundland directory contains approx. 380 pages. Gazetteer type descriptions are provided at the heading of each city, town and settlement, including those that were still considered part of the French Shore. No settlements in Labrador are included. The directory mainly lists the names of male inhabitants, with their occupation. It includes general information about Newfoundland, as well as historical and business information about all of British North America. More specifically the directory provides other sections of interest as follows:
p. 87-88 - General Index gives a listing of settlements and the pages on which they are found in the directory
p. 211-219 - Table of Routes gives a listing of settlements, their associated districts, and the nearest accessible point for connecting with a steamboat or stage coach service.

Like his competitor McAlpine, Lovell had a number of problems in his directory, especially in respect to the correct identification of settlements with the same name. There are also some settlements omitted and he was unclear on district divisions for areas in and around St. John's. It appears that St. John's itself was split between the districts of St. John's East and St. John's West, but no indications are given of their boundaries.
P1
P2
P4
R3
M3
1877 Rochfort's Business and General Directory of Newfoundland Publisher: Rochfort, John A.; St. John's, Newfoundland
This directory contains classified lists of the business men of St. John's, and the leading towns and districts of the colony. Its appendix contains local, governmental and other information of a general nature. It is organized alphabetically by name of profession or trade such as baker, cooper, draper, etc.; followed by a list of the religious and charitable societies, other societies, and fire companies. The appendix also contains miscellaneous information.
P1
P2
P4
R4
M4
1880-81 McAlpine's 1880-81 Maritime Business Directory Publisher: McAlpine, D.; Saint John, New Brunswick [1881?]. 528 p.
FHL US/CAN Film 856119
This business directory for 1880-81 contains names of all business men and women in the cities and provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the colony of Newfoundland, with complete indexes to the different branches of business and localities.
?
1885-86 Sharpe's Directory of Newfoundland Sharpe, John; St. John's, Newfoundland
St. John's, Harbour Grace, and Carbonear only. It provides an alphabetical listing with occupations and also includes general social, economic and governmental information about Newfoundland, as well as historical and business information.
P1
P2
P4
1890 Mights's Directory for Newfoundland Vol. I, St. John's (A-Me);
Vol. II, St. John's (Mc-Z), Harbour Grace & Carbonear
P1
P2
P4
1892 Kent's Directory for Newfoundland Compiler: Kent, W.J.
Names and addresses of professional men, merchants and shopkeepers of St. John's who were burnt out by the General Conflagration of July 8, 1892.
P1
P4
P5
1894-97 McAlpine's Directory for Newfoundland Publisher: McAlpine Publishing Co., Saint John, New Brunswick
Vol. I, St. John's City;
Vol. II, Districts & Outports. This directory lists the inhabitants of the island's various communities with occupations. It also includes general social, economic and governmental information. Includes index to advertisers.
P1
P4
1898 McAlpine's Newfoundland Directory Publisher: McAlpine Directory Co., Saint.John, New Brunswick
Part i - St. John's City;
Part ii - Districts & Outports. This directory lists the inhabitants of the island's various communities with occupations. It also includes general social, economic and governmental information. Includes index to advertisers.
P1
P2
P4
1904 McAlpine's Newfoundland Directory Publisher: McAlpine Directory Co., Saint.John, New Brunswick
St. John's; Districts & Outports. This directory lists the inhabitants of the island's various communities with occupations. It also includes general social, economic and governmental information and an index to advertisers.
P1
P4
1908-09 McAlpines's Directory for Newfoundland Publisher: McAlpine Publishing Co., Halifax, Nova Scotia
St. John's, Harbour Grace & Carbonear only. The St. John's city directory section contains street listings and an alphabetical list of the city's inhabitants with occupations and a business directory. Inhabitant lists only are also given for Harbour Grace and Carbonear, with a general Newfoundland business directory as well. Includes index to advertisers.
P4
M8
1913 St. John's Directory Publisher: Newfoundland Directory Co., St. John's, Newfoundland
A directory mainly for St. John's, but including Bell Island, Harbor Grace and Carbonear. The listings are alphabetical with occupations.
P1
P4
1915McAlpine's Directory Compiler: Newfoundland Directory Co.
St. John's, Harbour Grace, Carbonear, & Bell Island.
P4
1919 St. John's Directory Compiled by Maritime Directory Company
includes St. John's, Bell Island, Carbonear, Harbour Grace, Trinity.
P1
1924 St. John's City Directory Publisher: The St. John's (Nfld) Directory Co., St. John's, Newfoundland
This St. John's city directory contains street listings first (starting p. 9) followed by alphabetical name listings (starting p. 71). It also includes an index to advertisers on p. 6-8.
P1
P4
1928 Directory for Newfoundland compiled by the Newfoundland Directories
Includes St. John's and vicinity,
- Bay Roberts
- Harbour Grace & Carbonear
- Burin West
- Businesses in the Districts of Harbour Main and Port de Grave.
P1
P4
1932 St. John's Classified Business and City Directory Publisher: The St. John's Publicity Co., St. John's, Newfoundland
This St. John's city directory contains street listings first (starting p. 10) followed by alphabetical name listings (starting p. 75). Ii also ncludes an index to advertisers (p. 14).
P1
P4
1936 Directory of Newfoundland published by Newfoundland Directories
includes St. John's and district towns.
P1
P4
1938 Newfoundland Business Directory published by Maritime Directories
List of businesses in St. John's and various towns of Newfoundland.
P1
1949 Newfoundland Business Directory Published by Maritime Directories
Lists businesses in St. John's and various towns of Newfoundland.
P1
1949-50 St. John's Business Directory published by Allied Newfoundland Publications
includes St. John's street locations and list of businesses.
P1

Compiled and contributed by Kevin Reddigan - October 2016

Page Last Modified: Monday January 30, 2017 (Kevin Reddigan)

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