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From Outpost to Outport

From Outpost to Outport: A Structural Analysis of the Jersey-Gaspé Cod Fishery, 1767-1886

Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    From Outpost to Outport
    Book Description:

    Using the extensive papers of the firm Charles Robin and Company of Jersey and Paspebiac, and the records of the Jersey mercantile establishment, Rosemary Ommer presents a detailed case study of commodity trade, uncovering the development, function, and strengths and weaknesses of all aspects of the fishery. Her analysis clearly reveals a functional three-point trading system: production in Gaspé, management in Jersey, and markets in the Mediterranean, the West Indies, and Brazil.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6227-1
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    This is a book about fish: the people who caught it, the people who bought and sold it, and the places in which this activity took place in the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. In more scholarly terms, it is a study of a colonial staple commodity trade: how it was established, how it worked, why it worked the way it did, and how all of that affected the economic development of the mother country and its colonial hinterland. In 1766, Gaspé became an outpost of the Jersey metropole. In 1886, Jersey turned its back on Gaspé, and the...


    • CHAPTER ONE Beginnings
      (pp. 11-23)

      In 1837, a writer in theGuernsey and Jersey Magazine, observing the thrust of Jersey colonial expansion into the British North American cod fisheries, noted that “the industry of a nation rests not so much on the extent of its territory as on that of its capital,”¹ an encouraging point of view for people living on an island that was only forty-five square miles in area and not particularly rich in natural resources. Indeed, given the diminutive proportions of its “national” territory, Jersey could never realistically have hoped to develop great wealth or to support an expanding population merely from...

    • CHAPTER TWO Production and Markets: The Fishery at Gaspé
      (pp. 24-47)

      With the vacation of the Gulf of St Lawrence by the French as a result of the Treaty of Paris, its inshore fishery became a new precinct for British fishing firms, very much open to exploitation by whichever interests could find a way to develop such sparsely settled territory. In 1765, Jacques Robin, having failed to establish a farming and fishing settlement two years earlier at Miramichi,¹ was was fishing Arichat, calling at outports on nearby Darnly Island and Petit Degrat, and maintaining a summer station at Chéticamp. His enterprise — called Robin, Pipon and Company of Isle Madame — was starting...

    • CHAPTER THREE Organization at the Jersey Core
      (pp. 48-67)

      In this chapter, I will examine the management apex of the Jersey merchant triangle in terms of the establishment of power structures at the Jersey metropole and the creation of effective political strategies which were designed to enhance Jersey’s ability to influence the larger United Kingdom metropole. This was necessary because the merchant triangle was vulnerable in various ways. One of these was its openness to mercantile and political power in the United Kingdom, within whose dictates the ownership and production apexes operated, and whose political power was strong enough to manipulate some of the vagaries of international politics which...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Merchant Triangle in Action
      (pp. 68-104)

      Typicality, continuity, and change are all essential components of any study that covers a long period of time: what is sought in this chapter is the simultaneous portrayal of that which was standardized and that which was flexible or changing in the Jersey cod trade. Basic structure did not change once Charles Robin had put his finishing touches to it, but of course within that framework many things shifted about. Thus, markets in Brazil opened up, Caribbean contacts declined, the Naples market became pre-eminent. Likewise, new outports were established as time progressed, and agents became more and more important in...


    • CHAPTER FIVE Consequences of the Trade: Gaspé
      (pp. 107-140)

      The economic history and historical geography of Gaspé remain to be written. There are, however, several useful sources for selected aspects of the history of the coast, of which Lee and Samson are the most recent.² Beyond this, the writings of Cooney, Mountain, Ferland, Ouellet, Blanchard, Langelier, and Chambers contain the best historical information on the region to date,³ but none purport to be a definitive history of the peninsula. Nor is such a history to be found here: the purpose of this chapter is to assess the structural impact of the Jersey fish-merchant triangle on the potential for economic...

    • CHAPTER SIX Consequences of the Trade: Jersey
      (pp. 141-175)

      The history of the cod trade in Gaspé is an account of staple-trade growth, but not of regional development. If, however, the economic effects of that trade on Jersey are examined, a very different picture emerges. In Jersey, the cod trade of Gaspé was seen as providing an economic base for the island which it did not possessin situ. By 1837, Jerseymen were commenting that the codfishery was of prime importance to Jersey, not only because of the value of the industryper sein terms of labour employed, capital invested, and the returns on that investment, but also...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Collapse of the Merchant Triangle
      (pp. 176-189)

      There occurred at mid-century a series of events that would in time combine to upset the balance of the merchant triangle. The underlying causes of most of these events can be found in the progress in Britain and western Europe of the industrial revolution, which changed British economic structures and political strategies. The marginality of Jersey and, even more so, of Gaspé left them powerless to redress the imbalances that resulted from the shifting political and economic philosophy of Britain. In the past, the Jersey merchants had been able to withstand stress at one, or even two, of the apexes...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Conclusion: On Colonial Staple Trades
      (pp. 190-200)

      Once upon a time there were six blind men who set out to examine an elephant. One of them, approaching the animal from the side, declared it to be like a wall. The second, feeling the tusk, pronounced it spearlike. The third, taking it by the trunk, found it to resemble a snake. The fourth, feeling the knee, immediately said that it was like a tree, while the fifth, touching the ear, thought it most like a fan. The sixth, seizing it by the tail, compared it to a rope.¹

      The explanations that we have for colonial staple trades are...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 201-232)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-242)
  11. Index
    (pp. 243-245)