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Twentieth-Century Shore-Station Whaling in Newfoundland and Labrador

Twentieth-Century Shore-Station Whaling in Newfoundland and Labrador

Anthony B. Dickinson
Chesley W. Sanger
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Twentieth-Century Shore-Station Whaling in Newfoundland and Labrador
    Book Description:

    Modern shore-station whaling on Canada's eastern shores developed with the spread of Norwegian-dominated whaling from local areas where stocks that had been depleted by new hunting technologies to more productive locations in the North Atlantic and elsewhere. Twentieth-Century Shore-Station Whaling in Newfoundland and Labrador adds to a growing number of regionally specific case studies that collectively illustrate the complex nature of the history of global whaling. Dickinson and Sanger further demonstrate how participants in the industry were instrumental in developing other whaling initiatives, including those in British Columbia.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7280-5
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-1)
  6. CHAPTER 1 The Setting
    (pp. 3-21)

    Newfoundland and Labrador,¹ Canada’s most easterly province, is located adjacent to the biologically productive waters of the Grand Banks (fig. I.I). The first inhabitants were the Maritime Archaic Indians who arrived in Labrador around 7,000 B.C. as the last icecap retreated. They moved into insular Newfoundland by about 3,000 B.C., and survived by gathering, fishing, and hunting, along the littoral. This culture was gradually replaced in Labrador from about 2,000 B.C. by the Palaeo-Eskimo whose ancestors originated in Alaska and moved eastward across the Canadian Arctic. The later Dorset Palaeo-Eskimo dispersed widely around the coast of Newfoundland from approximately 500...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Development
    (pp. 22-32)

    St John’s newspapers carried detailed accounts of the early successes of the whaling captain Svend Foyn and his compatriots. TheEvening Herald,for example, reported that in 1896 the Norwegian fleet had captured 792 “large” whales that yielded 3,200 tons of oil, selling for about £16–17 per ton in Glasgow.¹ Although some thought that a similar local industry would also generate substantial profits from a virtually unexploited resource, none of the Newfoundland companies involved in sealing or the Scottish Arctic whale fishery had the knowledge and skilled personnel needed to catch whales with the new methods. Introduction of the...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Expansion and Consolidation 1898–1902
    (pp. 33-44)

    The apparent abundance of whales and the ease by which Captain Bull had killed them convinced the Cabot Steam Whaling Compad operations. The first season had shown that Snook’s Arm was too far from the spring and early summer whale migration routes, including that of the high-yielding blue whales; also, the northern bays usually became ice-bound late in the year. A second station was therefore built on the island's south coast (fig. 1.1) to extend the hunting season.

    Cabotsailed from St John’s in early December 1898 so that Captain Bull (ill. 3.1) could assess the avilability of whales and...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Expansion, 1902–03
    (pp. 45-61)

    The industry continued to grow in 1902, stimulated by reports of large numbers of whales, particularly off the eastern Avalon Peninsula.¹ These waters had last been hunted in 1898 by the Cabot Steam Whaling Company as they waited for their station at Snook’s Arm to be built. The company now decided to return to these grounds by entering into a partnership with Bowring Bros, of St John’s as the Cape Broyle Whaling and Trading Co. Ltd.² Land was bought at Admiral’s Cove, Cape Broyle (fig.1.9), and construction of the new station began in March 1902 under the supervision of Michael...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The Peak, 1904
    (pp. 62-73)

    The rapid growth of the poorly regulated industry and the overexploitation of stocks made the Newfoundland Department of Fisheries advise against further expansion just five years after the first whale was killed in June 1898.¹ The pace at which the initial phase of whaling had developed required more effective management, they argued, since in “Norway, owing to unrestricted killing, the whale fishery was depleted in fourteen years. This experience should be a guiding light to Newfoundland in the path of prudence.”²

    The warning was not heeded. TheEvening Heraldreported in early 1904: “Another new whaling company is ... in...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The First Decline, 1905–17
    (pp. 74-83)

    The 1905 season saw catches decline for the first time. Three new factories had opened, and their catchersCachalot(Hawke Harbour),Baccalieu(Harbour Grace), andPort Saunders(Hawke’s Bay) increased the fleet to a high of fourteen (fig. 6.1).¹ A station proposed for Lark Harbour by the Neptune Steam Whaling Co. Ltd, to be supplied by the catcherNeptune,did not open.²

    As in previous years, whales appeared plentiful at the beginning of the season.³ Anders Ellefsen was thus able to write from Aquaforte to Ragnvald Berg, one of his Norwegian financiers, “I should imagine that the first thing to...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Expansion and Decline at Aquaforte
    (pp. 84-101)

    Commercial shore-station whaling in Newfoundland and Labrador was not an activity of large companies that preserved their records. Most were short-lived, opportunistic endeavours seeking quick profits. A comprehensive set of records seems to exist for just one station, that at Aquaforte. The Ellefsen Papers provide the basis for a case study of the operations of early twentieth-century commercial whaling.¹

    The new technologies developed by Svend Foyn and others soon produced a Norwegian-dominated shore-station whaling industry on the Finnmark coast. A potential setback to their monopoly occurred when the Deutsche Polar Schiffahrts Gesellschaft of Hamburg built a whaling station on the...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Newfoundland and British Columbia Whaling Connections
    (pp. 102-113)

    Whaling probably began in British Columbia with the use of stranded animals by indigenous people, and, as in Newfoundland and Labrador, evolved during the early part of the twentieth century into a commercial shore-station industry.¹ By the time American and European traders reached the Pacific Northwest in the late eighteenth century, coastal Indians were using boats, harpoons, and sealskin floats to capture whales.² Commercial hunting, however, did not begin until American, English, and French whalers arrived in the mid-1830s.³ This “traditional whaling” seriously reduced bowhead, right, and sperm whale stocks in the region. As on the Atlantic coast, the introduction...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Renewal and Revitalization in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1918–51
    (pp. 114-130)

    After almost two decades of uninterrupted whaling, none took place from Newfoundland and Labrador in 1917. A brief resumption occurred at Cape Broyle in 1918 when the station was bought and refurbished by the Newfoundland Shipbuilding Company of Harbour Grace.¹ The company proposed working with Norwegian interests to convert whale oil into margarine and export whale meat to the United States. There “canned whale meat was first introduced into the poorer districts of New York. It has since, however, become a ‘delicacy’ of uptown New York.”² Although about one hundred whales were killed, the experiment failed, and the Cape Broyle...

  15. CHAPTER 10 The Final Demise, 1952–72
    (pp. 131-141)

    Newfoundland and Labrador shore-station whaling entered into its last two decades in 1952. During the first, emphasis was placed on catching small species of whales to provide feed for a growing fur farming industry. Hunting for large species was revived in 1966, primarily in response to the demand for whale meat in Japan. The industry finally ended at the close of the 1972 season when the government of Canada implemented a moratorium on commercial whaling in response to anti-hunting sentiments and growing concern for declining stocks.

    The two most commonly killed small species in Newfoundland and Labrador throughout the 1950s...

  16. Epilogue
    (pp. 142-150)

    The modern Newfoundland and Labrador shore-station whaling industry was highly cyclical, with well-defined catch peaks in four periods: 1903-05, 1925-30, 1945-51, and 1966-72. Contributing factors to the declines included ineffective management, stock overexploitation, low capital, high operating costs, prohibitive expenditures on new stations and catchers, volatile markets for oil, bone, and by-products, and an initial dependence on the more highly paid Norwegians.

    The Norwegian presence was significant throughout the industry, especially in its formative stage. Partnerships developed between Norwegian and Newfoundland entrepreneurs, the first, the Cabot Steam Whaling Company, established in 1896. This was a direct result of overexploitation of...

  17. APPENDIX 1 Shore-Station Whale Catch Species Composition, Newfoundland and Labrador, 1898–1972
    (pp. 151-152)
  18. APPENDIX 2 Whaling Companies, Stations, Operating Years, and Vessels in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1898–1972
    (pp. 153-154)
  19. APPENDIX 3 Applications for Whaling Licences, Newfoundland and Labrador, 1902–03
    (pp. 155-156)
  20. APPENDIX 4 Newfoundland and Labrador Whaling Industry, 1898–1911, Fate of Catchers
    (pp. 157-158)
  21. APPENDIX 5 Wages and Occupations of Newfoundlanders Employed at the Aquaforte Whaling Station, 1902–03
    (pp. 159-159)
  22. APPENDIX 6 Wages and Occupations of Norwegians Employed at the Aquaforte Whaling Station, 1902–03
    (pp. 160-160)
  23. APPENDIX 7 Aquaforte Whaling Station: Buildings, Machinery, and Equipment, 1908
    (pp. 161-162)
  24. APPENDIX 8 Portion of Rissmuller’s Patent for Extracting Fatty Substances from Meat
    (pp. 163-168)
  25. NOTES
    (pp. 169-216)
    (pp. 217-240)
  27. INDEX
    (pp. 241-254)