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Newfoundland, Canada

NEWFOUNDLAND. or TERRE NEUVE, a large island in the Atlantic Ocean, at the month of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, between lat. 46° 38' and 51° 40' N., and lon. 52° 35' and 59' 35' W. It is separated on the N W from Canada by the Gulf; its S. W point approaches Cape Breton; N. and N.E. are the shores of Labrador, from which it is divided by the Straits of Belleisle; and on its eastern side expands the open ocean. It lies nearer to Europe than any part of America. It is about 1,200 miles in circumference; its width, at the very widest part, between Capes Ray and Bonavista, is about 300 miles; and its extreme length, from Cape Race to Griguet Bay, about 419 miles, measured on a curve. Its form is somewhat triangular, but exceedingly irregular, owing to its being indented with deep bays, the most remarkable of which are Hare, White, and Notre Dame Bays, Bay of Exploits, Bonavista, Trinity, and Conception Bays on the E. coast; St. Mary's Bay, Fortune and Placentia Bay, on the S. coast; and St. George's Bay and Bay of Islands on the W. There are besides these smaller bays and harbors. Many of these are extensive, commodious and well sheltered, with numerous rivulets running into them, while most of the harbors have complete anchorages, with clear and good channels.

The interior of the Island has never been thoroughly explored, but from the reports of Mr. Murray, the geologist, who has been far many years past and is still engaged in its exploration, there is reason to believe that its resources, both agricultural and mineral, are of very considerable importance. The greater portion, however, appears to be rocky, with numerous tracts of moss, much intersected by rivers and lakes, and but thinly wooded, except on the banks of the rivers. Great boulders, or loose rocks, scattered over the country, increase its general roughness. Hills and valleys continually succeed each other, the former never rising into mountains (the highest not exceeding 1,500 feet) and the latter rarely expanding into plains. The "barrens" of Newfoundland are those districts which occupy the summits of the hills and ridges, and other elevated and exposed tracts. They are covered with a thin and scrubby vegetation, consisting of bury-bearing plants and dwarf bushes, of various kinds. Bare patches of gravel and boulders, and crumbling fragments of rock, are frequently met with on the "barrens," which are generally destitute of vegetable soil The sea cliffs are, for the most part, bold and lofty, with deep water close to the shore.

The rivers of Newfoundland are nu­merous, and though the majority are small, yet some attain to respectable size. The largest are the Humber, Fiver of Exploits, Gambo and Great Cod Roy rivers. The Humber, in its main branch, is about 80 miles long—in its second, or Grand Pond branch, it is about 43 miles long. The Exploits is about 150 miles long, and drains about 3,000 square miles of country. The Gander is somewhat over 100 miles long. Nearly all the rivers issue from lakes or ponds in the excellent salmon. Fresh water lakes and ponds are also numerous. They are found over the fact of the entire country—on the very tops of bills. The surface covered with fresh water has been estimated at one third of the whole Island. 67 ponds have been counted from one spot on the N. E. mountains of Avalon, some two and three miles in extent, none less than 100 yards, and not at a farther distance than ten miles from the base of the bill. The principal lakes in !he Island are the Gander Pond, Deer Pond, Grand Pond and Red Indian Pond. The Grand Pond contains an area of about 185 square miles; this includes an island at its south west end, which contains an area of about 50 square miles. Deer Pond has au area of about 30 square miles. The Red Indian Pond has an area of 64 square miles. The Gamier Pond is supposed to be of large extent, but has not yet been measured.

The prevalent formation of Newfoundland is granite, and in some parts porphyry, quartz, gneiss, mica and clay-slate, with secondary and, over a con­siderable area, carboniferous formations. The minerals of the Island comprise silver, copper, lead, chromic iron, magnetic iron, specular iron, manganese, nickel, plurnbago, gypsum, serpentine, jaspers, white and black marble, lime­stone and coal. Traces of gold have also been found by analysis, as well as traces of cadmium and bismuth.

The principal mines are, the Tilt Cove Mine (cooper), the Notre Dame Mine (copper), both on the eastern side of the Island; and the La Manche Mine (lead), on the southern coast. The first named lies been very productive. The other two have not been so successful, though there o doubt they are rich minerals; the cause of their comparative failure is to be found in the lack of means or energy, or both, in their roprietors. The La Marmite Mine has exchanged proprietary Companies there several times. The works were commenced in 1857 by Messrs. Ripley & Co., and by them WPM excavated about 537 cubic fathoms, yielding 1.800 tons of ore, that is, an average of 3-4 tons to the cubic fathom. The next Company, called the Placentia Bay Co., excavated about 379 fathoms, which gave 450 tons of ore, or 1-18 per fathom.

The present Company, called the La Manche Mining Company, between January and June, in 1867, made but an average of 1,580 pounds to the cubic fathom, or little over ½ a ton, The total amount raised up to 1863 was about 2,330 tons of ore. Since then but little has been done. There have been a good many licenses of search taken out these years back, but no work of any importance has been commenced.

The climate, being insular, is not liable to so great changes in temperature as that of the neighboring continental Provinces, the winter being much milder and the summer not nearly so warm. The average temperature of February, the coldest mouth, is 22°, of July, the hottest, 60°, and of the year 40°. The winter lasts from December till April., The summer is short and warm. In May and beginning of June dense fogs prevail on the Banks and neighboring shores, hut they do not appear to be in the least prejudicial to health.

The principal trees of Newfoundland are spruce, birch, larch, willow, ash and fir; but they do not attain to a large size. Recumbent and standing evergreens are to be met in great variety; berry-growing bushes abound in e very swamp. European and American grasses, also red and white clover, are abundant.

In several sections of the Island aviculture can be carried on with profit. In the neighborhood of miry lakes and rivers there are valuable alluvia. Potatoes yield well a id are of excellent quality; green crops thrive well in. many districts, Wheat lots been known to yield 30 bushels per acre. Apples, plums and cherries have been raised with success; gooseberries, strawberries, and raspberries, of very good quality, are grown.

The timber lands, amounting to nearly one million of acres, and situated principally on the western side of the Island, and by the chief lakes and rivers, no wholly unsettled, and ungranted, though they are of high importance wrath a view to settlement. What may be the extent and nature of the lands of the interior it is impossible to say, as they have never been surveyed. No lands are let for lumbering purposes— the laws provide that they shall be disposed of for settlement alone. With the exception of the grant to the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company, which consists of one hundred square miles, in blocks of three miles each, no land has been given to any purchasers in quantities exceeding 200 acres, save in very few instances.

The only animal peculiar to the Island is the Newfoundland dog, famous the world over. Among the wild animals may be enumerated the deer, the wolf, the bear, the beaver, the marten and wild cat. Land aid aquatic birds are numerous. Seals are numerous on the coasts, as are also whales, grampuses and porpoises; while for fish there is no place in the world comparable to Newfoundland, especially for cod. The famous Grand Banks swarm with cod and every other variety offish. These banks form the most extensive submarine elevation on the face of the globe; in their full extent they occupy 6° of lon., and nearly 10° of lat., being over 600 miles in length and 200 miles in breadth, with a depth of water varying from 10 to 160 fathoms. The mean depth is estimated at 40 fathoms. The presedition of the fishery on the Grand Banks has of late years been left exclusively in the hands of foreigners, principally French, whilst the shore fishery, which, with less risk, is more convenient, is depended upon by the fishermen of the Island for their support. The cod fishery opens in June and lasts till the middle of November, and may be said to form the chief occupation of the inhabitants of the Island. The seal fishery is next in importance. In 1872, 193 vessels, with an aggregate burthen of 29,793 tons, and manned by 9,495 men, ware engaged in this fishery. The sailing fleet of Newfoundland now includes 20 steam vessels 5,759 tons, carrying 3,511 men.

During 1872,1253 vessels were entered at the port of St. John's, and 933 vessels cleared. The revenue of Newfoundland for 1872 amounted to $313,100, and the expenditure to $330,300, but there being a balance from 1871 of $132,000, after paying all the expenditure of that year, left a balance at the end of 1872 of $115,000. The debt of the colony on the 31st of December, 1872, was $1,151,676.

The imports of Newfoundland consist of all articles used for food and clothing as well as for domestic and fishing purposes. The principal exports are fish and fish oils, seal oil and skins.

Total value of imports and exports of the colony of Newfoundland from and to each country in the year 1872:
 

Countries Imports Exports
United Kingdom $2,694,667 $1,742,111
Jersey 43,552 14,782
Canada 825,442 64,430
Nova Scotia 556,453 197,218
New Brunswick 16,720  
P. Edward Island 63,531 3,379
British W. Indies 281,352 370,371
Sweden 7,617  
Hamburg 14,289  
Malta   20,180
France   6,499
Siam 61,147 742,993
Portugal 50,400 924,400
Italy 632 126,408
Sicily 7,055  
Greece   42,196
United States 1,654,634 126,279
Foreign W. Indies 270,957 126,279
Brazil   1,110,849
St. Peters 27,879 4,690

Total

$6,716,083 $5,707,002

The Government of Newfoundland pays $120,000 annually for the steam service of the colony. The steamers subsidized are the Allen Line to and from Liverpool and Hal fax, or some port in the Dominion or United States, once a fortnight; 1 steamer once a fortnight from St. John's northward; 1 steamer once a fortnight from St. John's westward; 1 from St. John's to Conception Bay; 1 to convey the Judges of Circuit all over the Island, an on the Labrador coast, running once a fortnight along the shore from south to north and vise versa, giving information to the fisherman where the fish is most abundant.

The public affairs of Newfoundland are administered by a Governor, an Executive Council of 6 numbers, a Legislative Council of 13 members and a Legislative Assembly of 31 representatives. The judicial department comprises a Supreme Court, with a Chief an 1 two assistant judges; a Vice Admiralty Court, and a District Court.

The public school system is based on the denominational principle as regards Roman Catholics, and the non-denominational as far as Protestants generally are concerned. The Church of England Protestants are dissatisfied with the system, and desire a separation from all the other Protestant denominations, so as to be placed in the same position, as to public education, as the Roman Catholics; from this view, however, all the other Protestant denominations dissent. In consonance with this state of things there are two general inspectors of elementary or board schools, one a Protestant, the other a Roman Catholic. The last printed reports of these inspectors are for 1871. The number of Protestant schools then in operation (the number and attendance have varied very little since) was 180, with an attendance of 10,676 pupils. Of these schools, 138 were elementary; 7 commercial; 20 Colonial Church and School Society (partly supported by the local government); 12 Wesleyan School Society; 2 Church of England; and 1 Presbyterian Church. The number of Roman Catholic schools was 101, with an attendance of 5,411 pupils. There are besides these, 7 commercial schools, with an attendance of 502 pupils; and 13 convent schools, with an attendance of 1,965 pupils. There are four public academies, based on the denominational principle, and all situated in the capital of the Island; one for Roman Catholics, which is in connection with their College; one for Church of England Protestants, in connection with their collegiate establishment; one for Wesleyans; and one for Protestants of all other denominations. The last named ought not, perhaps, to be denominational, inasmuch as it is open to all denominations, though but few, if any, of the denominations who possess academic institutions of their own have recourse to it. The towns of Harbor Grace and Carbonear, have each a grammar school besides the commercial and elementary board schools.

There are no railways on the Island and the means of communication a. not the best. Two steamers make fort-nightly trips to the principal places north and south of St. John's; and another runs daily between ports on Conception Bay. Most of the other places have to be reached by open sail boat. The inhabitants of Newfoundland are principally the descendants of the settlers from England and Ireland.

The Aboriginal inhabitants known as Red Indians have been extinct for many years past. There are some Mic Macs in the Island, but not many.

The following table shows the districts into which the Island is divided with the population of each in 1869:
 

Districts

Pop

Saint John's, East 17,204
Saint John's, West 11,646
Conception Bay  
     Southern Division 6,542
     Portdegrave 7,536
     Harbor Grace 12,740
     Carbonear 5,633
     Bay de Verds 7,057
Trinity Bay 13,817
Bon a vista Bay 11,500
Twillingate and Fogo 13,067
Ferryland 5,991
Placentia and St. Mary's 8,794
Burin 6,731
Fortune Bay 5,233
Burgeo and La Poile 5,119
     Total of Electoral Districts 138,670
French Shore 5,387
Labrador 2,479
Total 146,536

There are two Roman Catholic Dioceses in Newfoundland— St. John's and Harbor Grace; and one of the Church of England, with a coadjutor Bishop. The religious denominations, according to the census of 1869, are as follows:

Church of England 55,184
Church of Rome 61,040
Wesleyans 28,990
Church of Scotland 401
Free Kirk 673
Congregationalists 378
Baptists 10

Total

146,576

Places of worship:— Church of England 81; Church of Rome 59; Wesleyan Methodist 42; all other denominations 6.

Newfoundland is supposed to have been discovered by Northmen about the year 1060. It was re-discovered by Sir John Cabot and his son Sebastian on the 24th June, 1497. A settlement was subsequently firmed by some Portuguese adventurers, who were in turn 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 long series of years the colony existed merely as a fishing settlement, and was much disturbed 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 was appointed in 1728, and the first Legislative Assembly met on the first of January, 1733. The most noteworthy town on the Island is St. John's, the capital. It has telegraphic communication with Canada, the United States and Europe, and the most important places on the Island. Newfoundland is the only portion of British North America not yet incorporated in the Dominion of Canada.


Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America, Edited by P.A. Crossby, 1873

 

Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America


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