William Henry Parr Greswell.

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these circumstances France demands that " we shall keep one
half-mile all round that coast as a belt on which we are not to
erect a building of any description because they may any day
require to come and dry their fish there " ? This right naturally
interferes with any mining or agricultural projects along the
coast, and is a great hindrance to the development of the
northern half of Newfoundland. It is said that a Newfound-
land capitalist, discovering a lead-mine within 300 yards of the

56 British Colonisation

coast, sank a shaft with a view of working it \ but his project
formed shortly afterwards the subject of a remonstrance from
the French Government. If a factory for the canning of
lobsters is erected by a British subject, he can be compelled to
remove it, and witness perhaps the substitution of a French
factory in its place.

Such are the causes of friction subsisting between English and
French on the coasts of Newfoundland, and it cannot be denied
that they are of an exceptional character. In our dealings with
France the whole question, considering how little there is
really at stake, may seem like a surface ripple ; but the cause
of friction lies deep down in the general relations elsewhere
between France and England. It has perhaps been truly said
that it is the British occupation of Egypt that makes the New-
foundland difficulties hard to adjust. Moreover, there are two
main considerations which induce France to hold on to this
shred of Transatlantic empire with a tenacious grip. The
fisheries are profitable, and they nurse in a peculiar way the
sentiment of patriotism of Northern France. All along the
French littoral, we are told, from Dunkerque to St. Jean de
Luz, there is not a hamlet which has not sent forth the prime
of its youth to court danger and to seek wealth on the dreary
coasts of Newfoundland ; whilst the perils of the fisherman's
calling are immortalised in the verses of Basque and Breton
peasantry, and the gallantry of Newfoundland privateers is
still sung in the 'tween-decks of the miserable craft which
annually put forth in fleets to the cod fisheries of Newfound-
land. It may really be doubted whether there are, in propor-
tion, so many hardy sailors along the historic coasts of Devon
and Cornwall who know how * to hand, reef, and steer,' and
excel in all the arts of seamanship, as there are now along the
coasts of France.

The whole population of St. Pierre and Miquelon is about
5000 souls, and has been classified under the following
heads : i. The old residents who were ousted from New-
foundland by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, sprung from the

Newfoundland 57

Basque and Breton settlers in Acadie or Nova Scotia. 2. The
Hivernants or temporary French settlers who make only so-
journs upon the islands for the sake of trade. 3. The con-
sort es or annual visitors, fishermen by calling, thousands of
whom arrive every year. These would form the chief recruit-
ing material of the French navy or mercantile marine, and
there can be no doubt that they are most able and efficient
seamen. The soil of these islands is not cultivated to any
extent, only 2500 acres being occupied by the French. The
chief and only harvest is the harvest of the sea.

Newfoundland cod is considered superior to that caught
off the coasts of Scotland, Norway, around Iceland, and the
Faroes. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the
Basque Provinces were made rich by this trade, and at the
present moment the trade of Newfoundland with Roman
Catholic Europeans, Brazil, and the inhabitants of the West
Indies is very large and lucrative. Amongst the best cus-
tomers of the Newfoundland fishermen are the Portuguese
both in Europe and Brazil, who buy half of the yearly pro-
duce ; the Spaniards ; and the Italians. Canadian Roman
Catholics catch their own fish, and so do the inhabitants of
the United States.

The French fishing-fleet comes over annually, and forms in
the early spring a somewhat picturesque procession across the
ocean. The larger rig are few in number ; but brigs, brigan-
tines, schooners, and even yawls, are to be met with in fifties
and sixties. Many of these vessels are unseaworthy, and
carry crowds of passengers or consortes, a small craft often
stowing away 200 or 300 souls on board.

Prior to starting, each able-bodied seaman obtains an
advance of 150 to 200 francs, which is handed over to wife or
mother. The produce of the season's fishing at the expiration
of the voyage is thus divided : Four-sevenths goes to the
owner and three-sevenths to the crew. The three-sevenths is
again subdivided into shares, of which the captain takes three,
the mate two, each able seaman one, and a mousse half-a-

58 British Colonisation

share. The passage-money of the consortes, who vary in
number from 50 to 150, according to the size of the craft, is
from 4 to 6 ; and in addition to this they are required
to pay 100 francs as freight for their boats. On their return
voyage they are allowed five quintals of dried fish as free
luggage. In order to encourage this industry the French
Government grant 2 to every man, whether sailor borne on
the logs or consortes, embarked on board of the Newfoundland
fishing-vessels, and a bounty of 8s. 4d. per cwt. (twenty francs
per quintal) on all dry cod or cod's roe imported into France.
Sometimes more than ^200,000 has been allotted in the
Budget for bounties. 1

Historically the island of Newfoundland is to all Englishmen
one of the most interesting of our colonial possessions. Ever
since the day when in 1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert hoisted the
English flag in the presence of the fishermen there, sailors
from Bristol and the coasts of Devon have plied their hardy
vocation there ; and all round the coast the very nomenclature
of bays and capes and straits shows how they have stepped
into the heritage of Breton and Basque and Portuguese fisher-
men. Strategically, the island occupies a most commanding
position at the mouth of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. The
power that holds Newfoundland has a rare vantage-ground.
If England were left entirely without her great continental
colonies in North America by mismanagement or misadventure,
she might still hope to retain such an insular position as New-
foundland an island not altogether unlike the Mother-country
in general physical configuration, lying along the same parallels
of latitude, including about the same area of land, and nursed
in somewhat similar fashion with the Mother-country amid the
tempests and fogs of the northern seas. The strength of
Newfoundland lies, like the strength of England, in her insular
and at the same time commanding position with reference
to an adjoining continent, and also in her hardy brood of

1 See Captain Norman's Colonial France.

Newfou ndland 5 9

The bounty and bait difficulties may possibly be rectified
by some new turn in legislation which at present does not
appear. In her numerous bays Newfoundland has the
immense advantage of possessing an inexhaustible supply
of bait, and with this and other natural advantages at hand
she can afford to wait. Suggestions have been made that
France should receive in exchange for her fisheries rights a
portion of West Africa, whither the eyes of her colonial
statesmen are at present turned with the hope and ambition
of erecting a North African empire ; and, perhaps, with more
magnificent ideas of a continental empire at her very doors,
France may get tired of subsidising the fishing industry of
St. Pierre and Miquelon.

Apart from considerations already adduced, it has, however,
been asserted that France clings to this remnant of her Trans-
atlantic empire, in St. Pierre and Miquelon, from other and
more doubtful motives. In the prosperity of Quebec she
reads a new version of her own prosperity, and in the preva-
lence along the St. Lawrence of French language, customs,
laws, and the old religion she recognises her own peculiar
influences and civilisation. She cannot forget that her
pioneers, traders, missionaries, and pathfinders of former
generations laid the foundations of Canada in the first instance.
By the light of this consideration the islands of St. Pierre
and Miquelon acquire a new significance and convey a new
reading. A foothold in the new world yet remains to them :
a narrow perch, certainly, but a vantage-ground of undefined,
and perhaps indefinable, possibilities. They lie in the path
of commerce, and attract annually hundreds of Frenchmen,
and keep alive French sentiments and maritime traditions
from year to year along a distinct channel. Whatever the
political status of Canada may ultimately prove to be
whether absorption into the great Republic or a closer
political incorporation with the British Empire under a great
federal system France may argue that she cannot do
wrong in holding to a position the value of which may be

60 British Colonisation

enormously enhanced by some development yet lying hid in
the womb of time.

With regard to Newfoundland itself, English public opinion
has often been grossly ignorant or marvellously misinformed.
The stream of emigrants has passed by it and gone to Ontario
or to the provinces of the Far West, and made Canada more
familiar to us than Newfoundland. Epigrammatically the island
has been spoken of as noted for its fogs and dogs, without any
great foundation of truth. The sea-fogs do not extend far
inland, and the climate is said to be less trying than that of
England. The vegetating season is about six weeks shorter,
but the winter is more bright and cheerful than in England.
Although the interior of Newfoundland is comparatively un-
occupied and even unexplored, there are said to be fully
3,000,000 acres of land adapted for settlement and cultiva-
tion. When we consider that St. John's, the chief port of
Newfoundland, is only 1640 miles from Ireland, it is clear that
we have, in these days of quick steaming, an area of colonisa-
tion close at hand.

Newfoundland has not been very fairly treated in the past.
At the beginning she suffered from the evils of an unsettled
government, differing slightly from the conditions of mob-rule
or the rough and-ready administrations of mining communities;
then she groaned for a long time under the evils of monopolies,
her industries were checked, her native energies curbed, and
absentee proprietors grew rich at the expense of the * toilers
of the sea.' Sometimes the elements have proved themselves
too terrible and too exacting foes to the poor fishermen whose
task has always been amongst these storm-swept waters. Quite
recently (July 1892) a fire has destroyed a large portion of St.
John's, their capital city and centre of government. Yet in
spite of all drawbacks and disasters Newfoundland has pre-
served her credit and maintained her loyalty. She is less
encumbered by debt than most colonies, and is loyal to the
backbone. Her able-bodied fishermen number fully 30,000,
manning a fleet of 1800 vessels ; and if a Transatlantic wing of

New fou ndland 6 1

the Imperial navy were ever formed, where could better
material be found than amongst the rugged and loyal sailors
of Newfoundland ? 1

1 For facts and figures see Appendix II.

References :

Harvey and Ration's Newfoundland, our Oldest Colony, 1883.
Captain Norman's Colonial France, 1886.
Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute, vols. xvi. and xxii.
Greswell's History and Geography of Newfoundland and the Canadian

Dominion. Clarendon Press. Oxford, 1891-2.
Captain Kennedy's Sport, Travel, and Adventure, 1883.
Tocque's Newfoundland as It Was.



FACING Newfoundland, and separated from it on the north-
west by the narrow strait of Belle Isle, lies part of that vast
Dominion of Canada which slopes on the north towards the
Polar Basin and the regions of eternal snow, and on the west
stretches in ever-rising plateaux to the magnificent Rocky
Mountains. Thence it descends in broken terraces to the
Pacific Ocean. From east to west from the Atlantic to the
Pacific is a distance of 3000 miles, and the Dominion is nearly
equal in area to Europe. For many generations its resources
were unknown, its climate misrepresented, and its valleys
unexplored. It was believed to be the home of wandering
and marauding Indians, only fit to remain as a gigantic pre-
serve for animals such as the beaver, silver fox, marten, and
musk-rat, whose skins and furs are an article of luxury in
Europe. When it was finally surrendered to England by
France, Voltaire asked why need France lament over the loss
of * a few acres of snow ' ?

French public opinion should have been better informed,
for the first explorers were Frenchmen. In 1524 Verrazano,
sailing for the New World at the bidding of Francis i. in the
Dauphine, made his landfall on the coast of New Jersey, and
sailed northwards for many leagues ; next came Jacques
Cartier, the hardy Breton fisherman, born at St. Malo, who
made three voyages to Canada, viz. in 1534, 1535, and 1541.
In his first voyage Cartier ran up the Gulf of Chaleur, and,
ascending the Gaspe headland on the south of the St. Lawrence,

The Dominion of Canada 63

erected a cross thirty feet high in token of possession, on
which was fastened a shield with the words, ' Vive le Roy de
France,' cut deep into the wood.

In estimating the social and political conditions of Canada
of the present day, too little notice is generally taken of the
great part taken by Frenchmen in opening up the country
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Supposing that,
by some unexpected stroke of fortune, our South African
colonies were captured by France, and the colonists there were
transferred to the French allegiance. In name and political
status they would be French subjects, and if France proved
generous they would retain their language, law, and customs.
Thus there would be a life within a life. Still, the colonisation
of the country in the past would have been mainly British,
and its great cekists, explorers, ' trekkers,' and politicians
British in every sense. It would be impossible, therefore, to
understand the conditions of South Africa under the circum-
stances of this hypothetical transference without constant
reference to the British explorers and rulers of the country
who had lived and worked in past years. Such a hero and
explorer as David Livingstone would have left his indelible
mark upon the face of the country, and no transference of
dominion could mar or blot out his celebrity.

So we cannot understand Canada without constant reference
to French history, French customs, French law, and French
colonisers. The eye must rest upon certain great French
pioneers and colonists who, during the time they worked in
the country, left a certain impress upon it. They have
bequeathed to the present generation of French-Canadians a
natural pride which it would be idle to refuse them : most of
the honours of exploration, and the remembrance of many
gallant exploits in flood, field, and forest. The fact that these
French-Canadians are now conjoined with the British in
opening up a vast continent and giving political unity to a
great dominion under the British flag does not cause the
obliteration of honourable traditions. Both races, the French

64 British Colonisation

as well as the British, have need of all the spurs and incite-
ments that past history can give them, respectively, in order
to carry out the great destiny lying before them.

First and foremost amongst French explorers was Samuel
Champlain (1567-1635), rightly called 'the Founder of New
France. Born in 1567 at Brouage, a seaport to the south of
La Rochelle, he was familiar, like our own Devon worthies,
with the tales and adventures of the sea. The sailors of the
western and north-western coasts of France regarded Canada
and North America almost in the light of their peculiar birth-
right, the St. Malo people going so far as to claim Canada and
Newfoundland as their own by virtue of Cartier's discoveries,
thus setting aside Cabot's claims. Samuel Champlain was the
son of a naval captain, and, like Sir Walter Ralegh, whom he
resembles in many respects, had seen active service as a soldier
before he became a sailor, a pioneer, and a colonist, being
employed in the army of Henry iv. under Marshal d'Aumont.
His ambition was great and his energy unbounded. He threw
himself into the work of North American colonisation with the
most unflagging zeal. From first to last he undertook twelve
voyages to Canada, the first voyage being in 1603 ; and he com-
municated his enthusiasm to the French authorities at home.

In 1 6 10 Champlain landed at Tadousac during his fourth
voyage, his object being to proceed northwards past Three
Rivers to the land around Hudson's Bay, of which he had
heard rumours from the Indians. On this expedition he was
badly wounded, and did not succeed in exploring the interior
to any extent. He may be regarded as the first founder of
Montreal. Here he laid out gardens, sowed grain, and took
in at a glance the great advantages of the site. He was the
first white man to descend the Lachine Rapids.

In 1613 Champlain started on another expedition to reach
Hudson's Bay by the Ottawa River. He here met a certain
Nicholas de Vignau, who had stated that he had reached the
Bay by this route, and that after travelling to the sources of
the river he had come to a large lake, and thence by a portage

The Dominion of Canada 65

had reached the sea. On the shores he stated he had seen
a wreck of an English vessel and the heads of eighty of the
crew who had been killed by the Indians. All this turned
out to be a fabrication ; but Champlain managed to ascend the
Ottawa as far as Allumette Island.

The most important voyage undertaken by Champlain was
that of 1615-16, when he reached the Huron country. From
Allumette Island on the Ottawa he found his way to Lake
Nipissing, and thence by French River to Lake Huron.
Afterwards he saw Lake Ontario, and was the first white man
to stand upon its shores. Thus the key to the great West was
obtained at last, and the existence of those vast and mysterious
inland seas, of which faint rumours only had filtered down
through Indian sources, was proved beyond doubt.

At the same time the Roman Catholic Church was planted
in Canada. Many years before the Pilgrim Fathers had landed
within Cape Cod, Le Caron, a Franciscan, and the friend
and companion of Champlain, ' had passed into the hunting-
grounds of the Wyandots, and, bound by vows to the life of a
beggar, had, on foot or paddling a bark canoe, gone onward
and still onward, taking alms of the savages, till he reached the
rivers of Lake Huron.' 1

In 1627 a new era seemed to dawn upon New France when
the great Cardinal Richelieu directed his attention thither.
The Company of the Hundred Associates was formed with
power over a vast country, reaching from Florida to Hudson
Bay. It took the place of all previous companies. Three
hundred artisans were to be sent at once to Canada, and they
were to be provided with food and clothing for three years.
Each settler was to have land to cultivate and seed to sow,
and the Company undertook to establish 6000 inhabitants in
Canada. The French King, Louis xni., reserved his supremacy
in matters of faith and the right of homage as Sovereign of
New France. A crown of gold weighing eight marks was to
be given to each successor to the throne of France. In other
1 Bancroft, History of United States, vol. ii. p. 297,

66 British Colonisation

respects the Company was intended to be a vast monopoly,
with even the right to create and grant titles of honour. More-
over, all the emigrants were to be of the Roman Catholic
faith. Champlain was appointed Governor of this new and
vast dominion.

Unfortunately for its founders, the projects of the One
Hundred Associates were never carried out, and the Company
received a heavy blow at the beginning. There was war
between England and France, and Sir David Kirke, the
grantee of Newfoundland, dealt a decisive blow at Richelieu's
great projects for New France (1628-9). He captured eighteen
vessels laden with emigrants at the entrance of the St.
Lawrence, and, taking the cargoes out of ten of them, burned
the empty hulks and took the rest to Newfoundland. Shortly
afterwards Champlain himself had to surrender to Kirke. Had
there been a decided policy at that time on the part of England,
Canada might have become a British colony in its whole
length and breadth, and the history of New England might
then have read very differently. But by the Treaty of St.
Germain-en-Laye (1632) Canada and Nova Scotia were ceded
to France. It has been affirmed that Charles i. consented to
restore Quebec in order to obtain 400,000 French crowns,
which composed half of the marriage portion of Henrietta

But the fortunes of New France had received a severe check,
and afterwards Charlevoix thus mourned over it : 'The Fort of
Quebec, surrounded by several wretched houses and a number
of barracks; two or three huts on the island of Montreal; also,
perhaps, at Tadousac and in some other directions on the
River St. Lawrence for the convenience of fishing and trade ;
a commencement of settlement at Three Rivers . . . behold !
in what consisted New France and all the fruit of the dis-
coveries of Verrazano, of Jacques Cartier, of M. de Roberval,
of Champlain, of the great expenditure of Marquis de la Roche
and of M. de Monts, and of the industry of a great number of
the French ! '

The Dominion of Canada 67

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries religion played
an important part in French colonisation. Montreal was
re-founded in 1642 in the true spirit of apostolic fervour,
when upon the site of the old Hochelaga a solemn service of
inauguration was celebrated, and in France itself a supplica-
tion was offered up that the Queen of Angels would take the
island of Montreal under her protection. The Jesuit Fathers,
especially, distinguished themselves by their proselytising zeal,
and the Jesuit ' Relations ' give us the earliest descriptions of
Canada. No hardship was too great for the disciples of
Loyola, no task of forest travel too hard to be undertaken.
In addition to the hardships of exploration, the Fathers often
suffered cruel death. Pere Brebeuf, after labouring in the
cause for twenty years, was burned alive by the Indians ; and
the Iroquois, noted for their fiendish cruelty, put to death a
number of missionary heroes, who deserve to be remem-
bered for their zeal and piety, viz. : Daniel, Gamier, Buteaux,
La Riborerde, Goupil, Constantin, and Liegeouis. The
American poet, Whittier, has commemorated the Jesuit
Fathers in his poem, Mogg Megone :

' Well might the traveller start to see
The tall dark forms that take their way
From the birch canoe, on the river shore,
And the forest paths to that chapel door :
And marvel to see the naked knees

And the dusky foreheads bending there ;
While, in coarse white vesture, over these

In blessing or in pra)'er
Stretching abroad his thin pale hands
Like a shrouded ghost, the Jesuit stands.'

In the Huron mission and in the settlements of St. Joseph
and St. Ignace in the vicinity of Nottawasaga Bay, along a
tract of country explored by the great Champlain, accessible
from the lakes on all sides, we can recognise a most remark-
able story of French mission enterprise. In some respects
this ancient centre of Jesuit Fathers resembles our own lake
missions in Equatorial Africa ; and certainly Frenchmen were

68 British Colonisation

beforehand with us in using the mission centre as an advanced
guard of colonisation and exploration. For many years after
the death of Champlain the Jesuits virtually controlled the
policy of New France, and they had the support of such men
as Cardinal Richelieu, who regarded colonisation as essentially
an affair of Church and State.

Foremost among the Jesuits was Pere Marquette, who was
born at Laon, in the north-east of France, entered the order
when only seventeen years of age, and came to Canada at
the age of twenty-nine. He lived first at Three Rivers and
then at Sault St. Marie, and in 1670 went to the mission
station of St. Esprit, amongst the Hurons. When this out-
post was attacked by the Sioux those marauding natives of
the Western prairies Marquette retired with the Hurons to
the Great Manitoulin Island. Here the spirit of travel and
adventure prompted Marquette to solve one of the great
geographical problems of the age. Rumours of the mighty
Mississippi, the * father of waters,' had long come to the ears of

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 6 of 31)