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Lecture

NEWFOUNDLAND BEFORE THE 1860s.doc


Department
History
Course Code
HIS 2201E
Professor
Prof

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NEWFOUNDLAND BEFORE THE 1860s
Introduction: Until at least the late 1800s, Newfoundland was a place “very much
apart” from the rest of British North America in its historic development patterns as
well as its geography [quotation from Journeys, 192]. This lecture outlines aspects of
Newfoundland’s distinctive history before the 1860s, when it chose not to join the
Dominion of Canada at the time of Confederation.
Newfoundland before and after Cabot’s 1497 voyage of “discovery”: before -
aboriginal people, and a short-lived Viking settlement; after - the lure of cod brings
fishers from western European countries
Early settlement/Late settlement: Behind the seeming paradox: desperate would-be
settlers versus a British imperial government and wealthy and influential fishing
merchants uninterested in colonization
Cod as the basis for the transient fishing economy: a seasonal pattern until the late
1700s:
Significance of this pattern for (non) relations with the Beothuk
Britain’s increased dominance after the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713;
One big settlement and many little ones: St John’s versus the outports
The decline of the transient fishing economy as a result of warfare (late 1700s-early
1800s) and an increase in permanent settlement: a middle class in St. John’s; coming
of Irish Catholic settlers
The limits of law and government in Newfoundland in the 1700s: “a small and
scattered population, primitive institutions in law and government, and few amenities
of civilized life” [Part of the Main, 48]
Newfoundland in the 1800s: more settlers, political conflict, and the granting of
responsible government (1855); a lack of interest in joining Confederation in the
1860s
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