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Relations between Canada and Newfoundland in 1910



[Canadian Annual Review, 1910; for full citation, see the end of the text]


Passing from the far East to an Island on our own coasts, it may be said that except in their joint association before the Hague Tribunal - itself an important matter, however - the relations of Newfoundland and Canada were not conspicuously close during the year. At the same time their interests in so many matters are so identical that some consideration has to be given here to Island affairs. The year was one of marked success and increasing prosperity in the Colony. Lord Northcliffe's great pulp and papermaking industry was a factor in this; the experiments in shipping fresh fish to Canada and the United States promised to be extensive and profitable; a fine tract of agricultural land, 700 miles long and six or seven miles broad, was discovered on the west coast; mineral discoveries - gold on the north coast and more payable coal seams near Fortune - were reported; the revenue in March was estimated at $3,250,000 giving a surplus of $256,000 and exceeding that of the previous year by nearly half-a-million.


The Budget speech of Mch. 8th showed nearly $9,000,000 bearing interest in the Colonial Savings Bank and the several Canadian branch Banks. For the year ending June 30, 1910 , the trade of the Island included imports of $12,799,696 and exports of $11,878,455 - a total increase of trade since 1900 of nearly $6,000,000; the Fishery exports during this period were important elements in the increase having risen from $7,015,964 in 1900 to $9,578,984. The most notable political incident of the year was the decision of the Government and Legislature to commence a policy of branch railway construction which would add 850 miles to the existing system and benefit many residents and sections of the Island . A contract was arranged with the Reid-Newfoundland Company and work begun early in the Summer. Speaking on this subject to the Montreal . Star (Apl. 21) Sir Edward Morris, the Premier, eulogized the original railway policy of Sir W. Whiteway 20 years before, stated that five branch lines were now being constructed and gave the conditions as follows


"We have decided to construct five branch lines touching largely populated and highly prosperous sections of the country that at present do not enjoy the advantages of railway communication. This railway policy will involve the expenditure of about $4,000,000 altogether, the interest on which at 3½ per cent. will amount to $140,000 a year. As an illustration of how favourably the railway contractors view the establishment of these branches it is only necessary to say that they are undertaking the operation of these branches for forty years for four thousand acres of land per mile of track, asking no cash subsidy." As to Newfoundland 's relations with Canada Sir Edward made several suggestions


"We think the time has come when the Colony should have a daily connection with the continent, and it would be well worth the considera­tion of the Canadian Government, from a business standpoint, to contri­bute handsomely to the establishment of such a Service. At present Newfoundland pays practically the whole cost of the maintenance of this Service which goes to the door of Canada. Canada is seeking new outlets for her trade. American competition with Canada is very keen in New­foundland. As a result very largely of the establishment of this Reid Railway connection with Canada of North Sydney, Canadian trade has increased the past 12 years from $2,000,000 to $6,000,000 and in view of the great and growing prosperity of Newfoundland its market is bound to be much more important to Canada in the future than it has been in the past. The rapid increase in population in the Canadian North West; the comparative scarcity of fish food there; and the abundance of fish in our waters, suggest that a natural outlet for much of what we produce would be the rapidly-peopling prairies. Already large shipments of our boneless fish have been made to the North-West and have found ready sales there and proved so satisfactory that a substantial enlargement of this trade is, assured."


It was claimed that Newfoundland's Fishery business was changing from a salt fish to a fresh fish trade and that this was an important consideration for Canada . During the 1910 Session, also, legislation passed under which the Government undertook to guarantee, for one or more Cold-storage companies up to a total capitalization of $500,000, an annual interest or bonus of 5 per cent. for 15 years, with a view to establishing warehouses for the preservation of fish to be shipped to Canada - especially to Montreal in summer by steamers fitted with refrigerating chambers. Another Act of Canadian interest during the Session was of a Temperance character. This newly amended law allowed saloons to do business only between 9 a.m. and 9 pm. on week-days; closed them absolutely on Sundays; forbade the sale of any liquor on credit to tipplers; prohibited the sending of liquor C.O.D. into "local option" districts; and provided that in future no license should be granted to any saloon which had more than one entrance or more than a single room for the sale or consumption of intoxicants.


In June it was announced that the Catholic Arch-diocese of Newfoundland would in future, with its 80,000 adherents of that faith, be under the Apostolic Delegate in Canada . On Aug. 17 the Island-Colony celebrated with much ceremony the 300th foundation of its first permanent settlement by John Guy and a party of colonists from Bristol , England . On Sept. 16, Dr. J. W. Robert son, C.M.G., after visiting the Sydney Steel industries, referred to the immense supplies of iron-ore obtained from Newfoundland and declared that Cape Breton and the Island Colony "would eventually form a sort of commercial world of their own, able one with the other to supply themselves with almost anything they needed and to rear by a combination of their resources a vastly greater manufacturing structure upon present foundations. Newfoundland, with her immense wealth of pulp forests and Cape Breton with her great steel and coal mining industries, should be able to make themselves almost independent of the rest of the world. It was of great importance that the spirit of intercourse and commercial co-operation between the two Islands should be fostered to the limit of their possibilities."


About this time the Toronto Globe sent Mr. S. T. Wood to Newfoundland as a special correspondent and his letters in that paper of Oct. 29th, Nov. 2, 5, 7, 10, 11, 15 and 16 reviewed fully the conditions and progress of the Island and its people. Lord Northcliffe's gigantic $6,000,000 Pulp industry at Grand Falls was described as pre-eminently successful; the Government was said to be making a most determined effort to aid and develop agriculture; the iron mines at Wabana were described as exceptionally good and the mineral prospects of the Island as rich in the extreme; an interview with Sir Edward Morris described Confederation with Canada as not an issue. "To my mind," he said, "it would be a great mistake for Newfoundland or for any country similarly situated, to give up the right which she now possesses to direct and control her own affairs, make her own laws and carve out her own fortunes; to hand that power and that privilege over to any other country or body of men, no matter how trustworthy they might be unless there was some very good and sufficient reason for so doing." According to this interview the Newfoundland Premier was enthusiastic on the possibilities of a fish trade with the United States under Reciprocity while also hopeful of developing interchange with Canada . The Labrador bit of mainland belonging to Newfoundland suffered a good deal from famine during the winter and appeals for help were issued by Dr. W. T. Grenfell, C.M.G. As to the final Hague Award there were different opinions expressed. The Governments of Canada and Newfoundland appeared to be satisfied; Mr. Elihu Root for the United States also expressed satisfaction as to future American interests in the Fisheries. On Oct. 12th, it was announced that, under the terms of the Award, Hon. Donald Morrison, K.C., Newfoundland's Minister of Justice, would represent Great Britain on the new Fishery Commission with Dr. Hugh J. Smith of the United States and Dr. P. C. Hook, the neutral Commissioner.


Source: J. Castell HOPKINS, The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1910, Toronto, The Annual Review Publishing Company, 1911, pp. 97-100.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College