John Macdonald's trip to Newfoundland and Labrador 1888
This is a transcript of a series of fifteen newspaper articles entitled "Newfoundland & Labrador, From Toronto to the oldest British Colony"
that John Macdonald, a Canadian senator, wrote for the Globe following his visit to
Newfoundland and Labrador in 1888. The Globe of August 16 on p. 4, c. 1 stated " We begin to-day the publication of a series of letters which not only from their literary merit and the prominence of their author in the philanthropic, commercial and political worlds, but also because of the now existing political situation, will challenge the attention of the whole of the Dominion. The letters relate to Newfoundland and Labrador--the least known inhabited parts of North America--and are the production of Hon. John Macdonald, who has just returned from a lengthened tour in those interesting countries. The keen business faculty of Mr. Macdonald, his habit of close analysis, and his thorough acquaintance of public affairs, render him one of the most competent observers who have ever trod the soil of the Ancient Colony. His letters will aid the public materially in forming a judgment on the important matter now coming up for discussion--namely, the entrance of Newfoundland into the Dominion." Born in Perth, Scotland, Macdonald was a prominent Canadian merchant based in Toronto. Further information about him can be found in the CIHM collection (Al. Johnston. A Merchant Prince: Life of the Hon. Senator John Macdonald. Toronto, 1893 CIHM 7634) as well as in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography . The quality of the microfilm copies of the newspaper
varied so full transcription was not always possible. Included are four articles, one from the Globe and three from the Evening Mercury (St. John's, NL) commenting on John Macdonald's letters. Note the reference to Rev. Dr. Moses Harvey in the Globe of Sept. 6 and in Macdonald's own article of August 16.
August 16 Embarkation at Montreal--A full steamer has always room for one--Down the river--Prince Edward Island-Cape Breton--Coal for twenty-five cents a load--Headed for Newfoundland.
August 18 A visit to Carbonear--The scene of the late riots-Arrival at St. John's--The beautiful approaches--Public institutions--Natural Curiosities--Surrounding scenery
August 21 [Bound] about Topsail--The Roman Catholic orphanage--Torbay and Middle Cove-- Educational and financial [facts]--A trip north--Characteristics of the coast
August 23 A trip along the North Shore--Scenery and characteristics--The plenitude of churches--A bad country for dogs--The copper districts
August 25 The copper resources of the country--The approach to Labrador--Swapped religion against politics--Icebergs--The lobster industry--The Straits--Codfish curing--The extent of the industry
August 27 [Cod] fish ?--the seal fisheries--The [prodigious slaughter] of the animals--Sealing anecdotes--Sunday sealing
August 29 Traits of the fishermen--Flowers among the snow--The Arctic current and the cod fish-- [Prolificenece?] of the Arctic seas
August 30 The return journey to St. John's from the Labrador coast--The fishing catch of the season compared with former seasons
August 31 Why do the fisheries decline--The trap responsible--The fisherman, his character and characteristics--The hardest-working man the writer knows
Sept. 1 Agriculture of Newfoundland--A large area of rich land--Possibility of exporting live stock--The climate mild compared with Canada
Sept. 3 Liberal land laws now in force--The injurious policy of the past--Arbitrary actions of capitalists--Why settlement has been slow--The Hudson Bay policy repeated
Sept. 4The ? obstacles to the progress of the colony--Terrible fire--The Newfoundlander not likely to [settle] the forests--The evil supply system
Sept. 5 Copper mining statistics--The coal measure--Timber regulations--Lack of capital--No municipal government. No drainage No sidewalks in St. John's--Need of protection for fisheries
Sept. 6 The Confederation question--The views of the islanders--Can do well without but better with. Confederation Mr. Macdonald's opinions--A question of terms--Conclusion of the series
Globe Sept. 6
Sept. 20 The Hon. John Macdonald's letters on Newfoundland
Sept. 22 The Hon. John Macdonald's views on confederation
Sept. 24 reprinted from the Globe Sept. 6
Please forward any corrections or comments to E. Browne.
Last updated July 25, 2005.