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Title: Newfoundland - Peeps at Many Lands
Author: Fairford, Ford
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Peeps at Many Lands



Peeps at Many Lands




Containing Twelve Full-Page
Illustrations in Colour
by C. G. Lowther

Adam and Charles Black

Printed in Great Britain


  CHAPTER                                                   PAGE

     I. THE OLDEST BRITISH COLONY                              1


   III. PERILS OF THE SEA                                     13

    IV. HOME-LIFE IN NEWFOUNDLAND                             19

     V. THE FISHERIES OF NEWFOUNDLAND                         24

    VI. A LAND OF TIMBER AND MINERALS                         30

   VII. ACROSS NEWFOUNDLAND BY RAIL                           36

  VIII. THE NORWAY OF THE NEW WORLD                           41

    IX. HAUNTS OF THE PIRATES                                 46

     X. MOUNTAINS OF ICE                                      51

    XI. A PERILOUS ADVENTURE                                  56

   XII. THE NEWFOUNDLAND DOG                                  60

  XIII. HUNTING THE WHALE                                     65

   XIV. SHOOTING AND FISHING                                  69

    XV. SEAL-HUNTING ON THE ICE                               75

   XVI. LABRADOR                                              80


  ST. JOHN’S FROM THE OLD GOLF LINKS                _Frontispiece_

                                                       FACING PAGE
  AN ESQUIMAUX FAMILY                                            9

    POWER FOR ST. JOHN’S IS GENERATED                           16

  DRYING FISH ON THE “FISH FLAKES”                              25


  MARBLE MOUNTAIN, HUMBER RIVER                                 41

  STEADYBROOK FALLS                                             48

  SEALS ON “PACK-ICE”                                           57


  A HUNTER’S CAMP                                               73


  INDIAN BURYING-PLACE NEAR EXPLOITS                _On the cover_

_Sketch-Map of Newfoundland on p. viii._





It would not be an exaggeration to say that Newfoundland, although
it is the most ancient of the British Colonies, is less known and
understood in Great Britain than any of her oversea possessions. It
is generally believed that Newfoundland is somewhere in the Arctic
Circle; that the inhabitants are clothed in furs, live in snow huts,
feed on codfish; and that for six months of the year the island is
unapproachable on account of barriers of ice and impenetrable fogs.
This is altogether untrue.

If you consult a map of British North America, you will see that
Newfoundland is an island a little to the north-east of Nova Scotia, in
Canada. It stretches right across to the entrance of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, its south-western projection being only sixty miles from Cape
Breton, from which point Canadians may reach the island in about six
hours by crossing the Cabot Straits. The eastern coast of Newfoundland
is 1,640 miles from Ireland, and the fastest “liner” crossing the
Atlantic would cover the journey in from three to four days, although
the steamships at present plying between Great Britain and the Colony
are usually seven days accomplishing the voyage.

Upon first looking at the map of the Colony, you are at once impressed
by the similarity of its physical features to England or Scotland. If
you were to cut off the two peninsulas at the south-east corner, from
Trinity Bay to Fortune Bay, the remaining land would not be at all
unlike England.

The coast of Newfoundland is extremely rugged, and you will get an
idea of the number and size of the bays if you bear in mind that the
coast-line at present, measured from headland to headland, is about
1,000 miles; whereas, if the bays were straightened out, there would be
a coast-line of probably 2,000 miles. Some of the bays are very deep,
and the huge, high rocks towering above them present a picturesque and
majestic appearance. There is, perhaps, no country in the world that
has such secure natural harbours. These land-locked harbours are a
great boon to the fishermen, for when the long, rolling waves of the
Atlantic are eager to devour any vessels that may be in their way, the
slender craft of the fishermen are securely nestled between a couple of
immovable jutting headlands.

On a map of North America Newfoundland usually looks very small. Of
course, in comparison with the United States and Canada, it is small.
An idea of its size is best obtained by comparing it with Ireland, than
which country it is said to be about one-fifth larger. Its breadth
is about fifty miles greater than England, and its length 140 miles
less. About one-fourth of the island’s surface is covered by water,
so that one naturally expects to see many rivers, lakes, and ponds.
Three large rivers are the Gander, the Exploits, and the Humber, all of
which are teeming with what are considered to be the finest salmon in
the world. Every summer British and American tourists flock to these
rivers, for not only can excellent fishing be obtained, but absolute
quiet and magnificent scenery are always to be enjoyed by those who
seek sport, health, and rest from the dust and din of ordinary workaday
life. Lakes, too, are very numerous, and to view sixty to seventy of
them from the summit of a mountain is a scene never to be forgotten
by the beholder. As these lakes are invariably surrounded by spruce
and fir trees, their existence may never be known to the traveller
unless he happen to be on some eminence far above the common track of
the ordinary pedestrian. One striking feature in connection with many
of the lakes is the secluded hollows in which they are to be found on
the tops of the high hills, as though they had determined that their
beauty should not be enjoyed without the effort of climbing on the part
of the seeker of placid waters. When the climber reaches the crest
of a high hill, it is quite a common experience to be unexpectedly
confronted by a circle of water, from which scores of seagulls rise,
startled by the intrusion of a stranger upon their solitary retreat.

Although there are no very lofty mountains in the island, there are
numerous ranges of high hills, the Long Range extending for quite 200
miles in a north-easterly direction from Cape Ray. In the winter the
hills present a beautiful appearance, with their innumerable white
heads peering above the clumps of spruce and fir trees, the charm of
the bright blue being greatly enhanced by the contrast. But they are
most beautiful in autumn, when the undergrowth begins to change its
colour, and the leaves of the wild berries put on their glamorous robes
of scarlet.

However, as a chapter will be devoted to the scenery of this ancient
island, we will pass on to an account of the early races, together with
the present inhabitants, their mode, of living and the means by which
they obtain a livelihood.



There is always something interesting in an account of the early
inhabitants of a country; but, unfortunately, it is not possible to
trace the first dwellers upon the soil of Britain’s ancient Colony of
Newfoundland. There is much tradition associated with the researches
of historians, and very few descriptions of the races inhabiting this
large island in the early ages can be considered at all authentic.
The Red Indians can be traced with accuracy so long ago as 1497, when
Cabot, the celebrated navigator and explorer, found his way to the
great stretches of fertile lands on the north-west of the Atlantic

This race of Red Indians were known as the Beothiks. Doubtless they
were a warlike people, and had their tribal battles, just as did the
various tribes once so numerous in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and
other parts of Canada. Their chief occupations would be hunting and
fishing, for the island abounded in geese, wild-duck, ptarmigan,
bears, foxes, and deer, whilst the rivers were abundantly stocked with
beaver, as well as salmon, trout, and numerous other kinds of fishes.
The weapons with which they captured their prey would be clubs, bows
and arrows, spears, and slings, so that they would never be in need
of food, and the furs of the wild animals would furnish them with all
necessary clothing to keep them warm in the long, cold days of winter.

John Guy, who is supposed to be the first Englishman to successfully
found a settlement in Newfoundland, describes the Beothiks as he found
them in 1612: “They are of a reasonable stature, of an ordinary middle
size. They goe bare-headed, wearing their hair somewhat long, but
round; they haue no Beards; behind they have a great locke of haire
platted with feathers, like a Hawkes Lure, with a feather standing in
it vpright by the crowne of the head, and a small locke platted before;
a short gown made of stags skins, the Furre innermost, that ranne down
to the middle of their arme, and a Beauer skinne about their necke was
all their apparell, saue that one of them had shooes and mittens, so
that all went bare-legged and most bare-foote. They are full-eyed, of a
blacke colour; the colour of their haire was diuers, some blacke, some
browne and some yellow, and their faces something flat and broad, red
with Oker, as all their apparell is, and the rest of their body; they
are broad-brested, and bould, and stand very vpright.”

The Beothiks, however, were so cruelly treated by another tribe called
Micmacs, and more particularly by French and English settlers, that by
1829 the last of this interesting race passed away in the person of

The present inhabitants are mostly of English, Irish, and Scotch
descent, and number about 227,000. When it is borne in mind that the
area of the island is 42,000 square miles, it will be seen how small
the population is. St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, has a
population of about 30,000. The rest of the inhabitants are scattered
along the coasts. Comparatively few people dwell in the interior.
Probably one-fourth of the people are engaged in the fishery, as this
is the leading industry of the Colony. The fisher-folk live very simple
and, on the whole, honest lives. They live chiefly on fish, tea, pork,
and bread. Their houses are built of wood, and are usually erected by
the tenants themselves. One could not call the fisher-folk educated,
and it would be unjust to call them illiterate. To-day the Government
are devoting more attention to education, and in a few years’ time the
fisherman who cannot read or write will be looked upon as a curiosity.
The children in the out-ports are receiving an education to-day in
their own districts that their fathers could have obtained only by
attending the schools of the larger towns. Even so recently as twenty
years ago the fishermen in some of the settlements exchanged their
fish for food and clothing, money not being in general circulation.
The rate of mortality in some of the settlements is very high, which
is due to the hardships of their calling, poor food, and small and
ill-ventilated houses. In many of these small houses an ordinary
fire-grate is sufficient for heating purposes, but the majority of
them have a large stove standing in the middle of the kitchen, as
this not only emits more heat, but it also performs the duties of a

When we consider how meagre have been the facilities for education in
the past, we are astonished that there is so much morality in these
small fishing settlements. Crimes of a serious nature are seldom heard
of, and murder startles the whole population, so peace-loving are the
people on the whole. They are men and women of religious faith, and
always attend Divine service at the church of their creed at least once
on Sunday. Nor is their religion confined solely to church-going: they
are most practical in its exercise. If one settlement is in distress
through the failure of the fisheries, the other settlements will always
assist them so far as they are able. If an ill-fated schooner goes to
the bottom with all hands, a subscription for the relief of the widows
and orphans is opened immediately, and every man considers it a duty to
contribute to the full extent of his means. Moreover, a mother with six
children of her own will often take charge of three or four children
of the settlement who have been unfortunate enough to lose their father
at sea.

[Illustration: AN ESQUIMAUX FAMILY.]

The fisher-folk have not always taken kindly to the advance of
civilization. When the locomotive was introduced, in 1881, the
engineers were at their wits’ ends to know how to overcome the
opposition of these people, who refused to allow them to cut the track
through their settlements.

There is a good story told of what is known as the “Battle of
Fox-trap.” Morning after morning, when the fishermen had gone out in
their boats to the fishing-grounds, their wives would congregate in
the vicinity of the projected railway, and, with all kinds of weapons,
impede the work of the surveyors and engineers; and at night the
places of the women would be taken by the men after their return from
the fishing-grounds. Every effort was made to demonstrate to them
the utility of the railway--how much they would benefit by increased
trade and quicker locomotion; but they would not lay down their
weapons. The pioneers of the railway saw no way out of the difficulty,
as these obstructors were careful not to break the law. One day,
however, two of the marauders damaged a theodolite, and this enabled
the railway-builders to bring the perpetrators of the act into court.
The two guilty men were sentenced to six months’ hard labour, but the
sentence was repealed after a promise made by the fishing-hamlet that
they would interrupt the engineers no more. The judge was a resident
of St. John’s, and many of the inhabitants of the scene of the “Battle
of Fox-trap” kill sheep and oxen, which they bring to the capital for
sale. And the most amusing part of the story is in connection with the
judge, for the moment the trial was ended and the sentence repealed,
one of the acquitted prisoners turned to him and asked: “Please, sir,
would yer buy a quarter of lamb?”

In bygone days no difference of station existed among the inhabitants
such as exists in English social life, but during the last twenty-five
years distinction of rank has become more apparent. Although there are
practically no retired classes, there are the inevitable distinctions
of wealth, education, and profession. The merchants, members of the
Legislature, judges, lawyers, clergy, etc., are among the wealthy and
educated classes; the tradesmen, clerks, farmers, and others constitute
the middle class; while the working classes are composed of those
engaged in the fishing, timber, and other home industries.

In the capital, St. John’s, life is more on modern lines than in
any of the smaller towns. There are a Roman Catholic cathedral, an
Anglican cathedral, several Wesleyan Methodist churches, the Salvation
Army hall, and other denominational churches. There are four or five
colleges, belonging to the various denominations, and there is also
a London University centre, where pupils may take the matriculation
courses. A small theatre exists, but most of the performances are by
amateur companies. One of the most surprising things is, however, that
no public reading library is in existence. A new museum has just been
erected, and, although not large, it contains many interesting relics,
together with samples of the natural products of the soil and waters of
the island.

Most of the houses are built of wood, as are also many of the hotels
and commercial houses. In 1892 St. John’s was visited by a terrible
fire that laid nearly the whole of the city in ruins. Thousands of
people were homeless and hundreds were financially ruined. Since
the great fire many of the wooden buildings have been replaced by
magnificent brick and stone structures, so that a more modern and more
beautiful city has sprung from the ruins of that disaster.

One of the most striking characteristics of the people of St.
John’s--and, indeed, of the whole island--is the hospitality extended
to strangers. A visitor is always sure of a hearty welcome. Their table
is prepared for him, and they would consider it almost an insult if he
declined to accept of their generosity on the ground that he did not
wish to impose on them. Every stranger would be prepared to endorse
the opinion of Sir Richard Bonnycastle, who wrote of the people of
Newfoundland: “I declare, and I am sure I shall be borne out by every
class of people in this country, and by all those whose domicile
is a transient one, that a more peaceable, respectable, loyal, or
kinder-hearted race than the Newfoundland English and Irish, whether
emigrant or native-born, I never met with.” While loving their own
island and independence, they are proud to belong to the great Empire
over which King George V. reigns.



As the livelihood of the people of Newfoundland is almost entirely
dependent upon the fisheries, it is natural that they should have
to face the perils of the sea. And through what perils the poor
fishermen have to pass! Wind, rain, fog, snow, and ice sweep over
the fishing-grounds, carrying many a slender craft far out to sea,
never again to reach the peaceful harbours and coves from whence they
started. During one of those wild hurricanes that often visit the
Newfoundland coast wives and children are kept in an agony of suspense,
not knowing whether they will ever again see the faces of those upon
whom they rely for their daily bread. How courageous these fishermen
are, too! There are many soldiers wearing the Victoria Cross who have
never fought such battles as are regularly being fought by these
toilers of the sea.

As one example of many similar experiences, the following account of
thirty-six hours at sea in a hurricane during November, 1909, will
illustrate the perils endured in the waters around the Newfoundland
coast. The schooner _Fannie Belle_ was on her way to St. John’s with
a cargo of fish and oil. When near to Cape Ballard a strong breeze
forced the schooner to bear away under double-reefed foresail; but
when Shingle Head was reached, she was compelled to drop two anchors
and spend the night under the shadow of that sheltering headland. By
the time the first faint streaks of light had appeared in the eastern
sky, the wind had risen to a hurricane, and the crew were not surprised
when the anchors suddenly parted, and the schooner, borne on the crest
of a giant wave, was plunged into a mountainous sea, her anchors being
dragged along as though they were no stronger than strips of seaweed.
All day long she fought a battle against terrible odds. The captain
and the crew strained every muscle to keep her above water, and every
moment they expected to go down to the bottom of the sea. The schooner
had drifted fifty miles out to sea, and was most of the time on her
beam ends. The tossing of the ship had kept the barrels of oil rolling
from port to starboard all the day, and only the nimble movements of
the crew saved them from broken limbs or death. The captain, who was
lashed to the wheel, saw that these rolling casks would pound the ship
to pieces, so he ordered eighteen of them to be thrown overboard. A
few moments afterwards the jumbo and mainsail were torn in shreds, and
the dory on deck was swept into the sea. The riding-sail was then set,
and the captain kept her running with the wind. But the hurricane
increased, and the schooner began to take in a lot of water. Eighty
quintals of fish were thrown overboard, and the pumps were set to work.
Distress signals were hoisted, but they were unnoticed by two passing
steamers. The snow, fog, and flying spray probably hid the small ship
from the larger, ones. A little girl, daughter of one of the crew, was
confined in the cabin; but so accustomed are the fishermen’s children
to the perils of the sea that she felt just as much at home in the
storm as in the calm. The crew were kept busy for thirty-six hours
fighting against fearful odds, and when they were towed into Trepassey
every man was exhausted, but more than thankful that they had escaped
a watery grave. Everything had been washed from the deck, even the iron
chains, and for fifteen hours, without food, the captain had been
lashed securely to the wheel.

These perilous adventures on the sea make the fishermen very brave
and self-reliant; they make them very kind-hearted too. If a ship is
in distress, they are always ready to risk their lives in an attempt
to save the lives on board. It is not an uncommon occurrence for some
“liner” to be driven to destruction in the fogs and storms around
the rugged south-east corner of the Avalon Peninsula. If you were to
ask one of the fishermen of Trepassey Bay to tell you of the many
shipwrecks in that particular vicinity, he would relate stories of
disasters that would fill many books if they could be written. One
story would be of the ill-fated steamer _George Washington_, that went
to pieces in a fearful storm one winter’s night about thirty-three
years ago. Like many another wreck on that lonely coast, the fate
of this steamship might never have been known had not one of the
inhabitants accidentally caught sight of the wreckage in the crannies
of the cliffs. When it was once reported that a wreck had taken place,
a band of hardy fishermen hurried to the spot in the hope that they
might yet be of some service to the passengers and crew. Alas! nothing
remained but dead bodies and fragments of the ill-fated ship. From the
top of the cliff two men were lowered by a rope into the abyss below.
What a ghastly sight greeted them! After hours of strenuous work, they
managed to draw twenty dead bodies from the sea, and securing them one
by one to the rope, their companions above drew them to the summit of
the cliff. The band of fishermen then dug out a long trench, lined it
with pieces of canvas and carpet from the wreckage, and reverently
laid the bodies in it side by side to rest in a lonely grave, where
the Atlantic can do no more than cast over them the spray of its angry
waters. Strangers were these victims to the men who had laid them in
their grave, but the fishermen knew that somewhere in a far-off land
loved ones were mourning for those whom they would see no more.
The faith of the fishermen is very simple, but they are a God-fearing
people, and the broken prayers that they uttered over the unfortunate
victims before they covered up the trench were as sincere as those of
the fishermen of old who cried, “Lord, save us, or we perish.”


The fishermen not only have to battle with the storms of the sea: they
have disappointments too. Sometimes great pans of ice are tightly
wedged against the shore, and they have to wait week after week for a
wind off the land to drive the heavy ice-blocks out to sea. When the
favourable wind arrives and the ice is blown away from the land, they
hopefully throw out their lines, only to draw them in again and again
with no reward for their labours. The fish have not yet struck in. At
last the “schools” are coming to the fishing-grounds, and the hope of
the fisherman is revived, only to be dashed again on the following day;
for the wind has changed and the ice is once more driven to the land,
thus making fishing impossible.

Of course, if the fishery is a failure, it means that the fishermen,
their wives and children, find it impossible to live until the
following season, unless the Government give them some assistance,
which is not at all an uncommon occurrence. In connection with a
partial failure of the fisheries some years ago, an interesting and
true story is well worth relating. In one of the fishing villages near
Fogo Islands the fishermen were in great trouble, because they had gone
out in the boats day after day and week after week, only to return
disappointed, for there were no fish to be caught in the waters around
that district. The minister of the little Presbyterian church was a
God-fearing man and one who had great faith in prayer, so he called the
fishermen of the village together, and told them that there would be a
special service of prayer to ask God to send them fish on the following
day. All the fishermen of the village except one attended the service.
During the service the minister called on several of the fishermen
to pray that God would send fish; but some of them got away from the
subject and prayed for everything except fish. “Stick to fish,” cried
the minister. “We want fish, and we must pray for it.” At the close
of the service the men walked home, many of them doubting, others
believing. Ned Williams, the atheist of the village, laughed at the
idea of prayer being answered. And yet, strange as it may seem, Ned was
the first to go out in his boat next morning, and before he had been
fishing five minutes he was hauling fish into his boat by the score.
The glad news soon spread through the settlement, and by nightfall
the hearts of the fishermen leaped for joy, for they had never before
taken so many fish from the sea in a single day. Their prayers had been



In a land where the winter is long, and sometimes very cold, it is to
be expected that a good deal of time is spent at home. Moreover, in
many of the small towns there is little attraction out of doors to draw
one from the fireside except skating and sleighing; and as there is
only a small theatre, there is little in the way of operas, dramas, or
musical entertainments. Concerts are given occasionally in the churches
or public halls, but these are mostly amateur performances in the
interest of charity.

The houses are nearly all built of timber, and the residences of
the upper and middle classes are very artistic in design. Beautiful
verandas add to the appearance of these houses, and in the summer
people spend many hours under their shade.

It is possible to keep warm in winter without the assistance of a
heating apparatus; but the majority of people install them in their
homes, so that a uniform heat may be maintained in every room. It is
imagined by people who have never lived in a wooden house that they
must be very draughty. Such is not the case. They are even warmer than
a brick or stone house.

At Christmas-time home-life is much the same as in other
English-speaking countries. Santa Claus makes his visits to the
bedrooms of the boys and girls, and on Christmas morning a good
supply of toys and books is waiting for them when they awaken. The
church-bells ring out joyously, and the earth is usually covered with
a carpet of snow. Games are indulged in during the evening, and on
the whole the children have a very good time. The mummers used to go
through the streets, much to the delight of the boys and girls, who
made a practice of pelting them with snowballs; but this treatment
finally drove them from the streets, and so a romantic and historic
pageant has been abandoned, much to the regret of those who appreciate
time-honoured customs. The visitor from England, however, misses the
dark green holly leaves, with their bright red berries, and also the
mistletoe bough. Nor are there any waits. If no one tells you that
carol-singing is not practised in the country, you wait patiently
for “Hark, the herald angels sing,” only to be disappointed, for the
singers never come.

Very often, when the boys are making their snowmen on the ice, a
cry goes up, “Seals! seals!” and men and women, boys and girls, go
helter-skelter across the snow-covered pans, with clubs and sticks to
kill the “white-coats.” Sometimes, however, very sad fatalities attend
these haphazard hunting-trips. The sky may be clear and blue when they
start, with a bright sun turning the particles of frozen snow into
glittering diamonds. But when they are about a mile from the shore, the
wind suddenly changes, the distant sky grows black, and a blinding snow
comes whistling through the air before they have time to return to the
shore. The ice begins to grind on the coast, which is the first sign
that the great sheets and blocks have decided to move out to sea. All
available boats are then pushed into the sea to follow up closely the
drifting ice, so that when the band of casual hunters reach the edge
they can be lifted into them and rowed safely to the land. Alas! many
of them have either perished in the blizzard, or have drifted out to
sea on a sheet of ice that has broken away from the main body, where
death awaits them in the Atlantic, unless they are sighted and picked
up by a passing steamer.

The majority of the houses in the capital are fitted up with the
telephone, and a good deal of the shopping is done by its aid. And here
it may be well to tell the English boys and girls that the British
method of calculating in pounds, shillings, and pence is not in vogue
in Newfoundland. All buying is transacted in dollars and cents, the
dollar being about equal to four shillings. There are copper coins for
1 cent and 2 cents, and silver coins for 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. The
paper money is in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, or more dollars. This
system may appear strange at first, but it is much more simple than
calculating in British currency.

Life in the summer-time is one round of pleasure. When the vacation is
announced the boys and girls scamper from the schools and colleges,

    “No more French! no more French!
     No more sitting on a hard board bench!”

All books are laid aside, and picnics in the country are the favourite
holiday pastime. Many of the city families erect tents by the side
of a large river or lake, and stay there during the summer vacation.
Rowing-boats are on the most popular waters, and the boys and girls can
row together across the magnificent lakes; for every Newfoundland boy
and almost every girl knows how to manage a pair of oars. Every boy
knows how to use a fishing-rod, too, and as many as fifty trout have
been drawn out of the water in a single day by one boy, and these trout
weigh from one to five pounds.

When they are tired of rowing and fishing, they scamper away to
the woods, where raspberries, strawberries, partridge-berries, and
blue-berries grow abundantly in luscious clusters. While father and
mother are preparing tea around the camp-fire, the children are
gathering raspberries and bringing cream from the farm; and then all
settle down on their camp-stools or on the ground to do justice to a
meal for which the invigorating air has given them such a keen appetite.

There is not the same enthusiasm exhibited with regard to football
as is shown by the English boy. Moreover, football is played in the
summer, and not in the winter. Matches are played weekly between the
various college teams; but as they are so few, the same teams have to
oppose each other very frequently. The league tables are in operation,
and there are certain trophies offered that excite a good deal of
interest among both players and spectators.

There is an impression prevailing in the old world that if European
boys and girls came to the homes of the boys and girls in Newfoundland,
they would find that they were all Eskimos. That is a very erroneous
impression, and unfair to Newfoundland. As a matter of fact, they are
just like British or American children in appearance and manner, and
it may be that a larger proportion of bigger and braver boys would be
found amongst them. English papers and magazines are to be found in
all their homes, and all the British school games and pranks are quite
familiar to them.



Since the days when Cabot left Bristol to roam across the Atlantic
in search of new lands and new peoples, the fishing-grounds of the
Grand Banks have become known all over the world. Indeed, their
riches have been coveted by many countries, and more than one battle
has been fought between nation and nation to gain possession of the
famous “gold-mine of the Newfoundland fishery, richer than the famous
treasures of Golconda and Peru.”

There are several kinds of fishing prosecuted by the fishermen of
Newfoundland, but the cod is the most profitable to the Colony, as the
catch is usually worth between seven and eight million dollars a year.
The fishing-grounds are not confined to the Grand Banks; they stretch
from the south along the east and west coasts as far as Labrador.
Of course, the waters within a certain distance from the shore are
the exclusive property of Newfoundland so far as fishing in them is
concerned; but Americans, Canadians, Frenchmen, and Newfoundlanders
may cast their lines into the water on the Grand Banks. If you were
to ask a scientist why these teeming millions of cod congregate in
this part of the sea, he would tell you that the water is crowded with
various species of jelly-fish, and these delicacies are the favourite
food of the cod.


As the cod-fishery is the staple industry of Newfoundland, and as it is
both in extent of area and wealth of production the largest cod-fishery
in the world, it is interesting to know something about it.

“Our knowledge of the habits of fishes,” says a writer on this subject,
“is yet extremely limited. Naturally, we cannot follow them through
the waters, and in consequence we know very little about them. We are,
however, aware that the varied courses of the cod are due to two main
causes--the capture of food and the variation of temperature:

“Scientific investigation has shown us that the great ocean river,
known as the ‘Labrador Current,’ which sweeps past the east coast of
Newfoundland (the most valuable of our fishing-grounds), is one vast
moving mass of fish food, full of minute crustaceans and animalculæ,
which afford abundant nourishment for seals, whales, and fish of all
kinds. The surrounding, with its ever-abundant supply of bait--fishes,
caplin, squid, and herring--and its suitable temperature, therefore
affords an ideal home for the cod.

“The stability and regularity about the incoming of the cod, and the
consequent permanent character of this great fishery, proved by the
experience of our centuries, without one single failure, is very marked
when we compare it with its rival industry, the herring fishery.
Herrings, for causes unknown, left the coasts of Norway for one hundred
years. Nearer Newfoundland, the great Labrador herring fishery is now
practically extinct.

“With respect to the movement of the cod there are two opinions, some
maintaining that the fish remain in each bay, only in winter they
retire to deeper water. This fact is proved by their capture in those
localities in deep water; but the other view, that there are two large
and extensive movements, is also clearly shown by various facts, the
capture of cod on our coasts with French hooks attached to them proving
that these fish have come in from Grand Bank district over many miles;
also the everyday occurrence of the cod and caplin being taken along
the Labrador coast later and later as the fishermen proceed north,
until near Cape Chidley the voyage is limited to a few weeks’ duration.

“Next to the stability of this great fishery we may note the commercial
value of the cod. Different from oily fishes, like the salmon and
herring, its flesh is rich and gelatinous, without being fatty, and
readily lends itself to a simple and efficient cure by salting and
drying in the sun. The cured product is found to be the best of all
the deep-sea fishes for use in tropical countries, and has never had a
rival. It was imported into Spain and the Mediterranean countries as a
staple article of commerce centuries before the discovery of America.

“We may add to this comment the remarkable effect of this great fishery
on the making of England. It was the cod that first drew Englishmen
from the narrow seas, and laid the foundation of her greatness as a
maritime power.

“The wealth of New England was founded by this fishery, and a stuffed
codfish remains in the great Municipal Hall of Boston to commemorate
the obligations of the Commonwealth to this humble foundation of their
progress and prosperity.”

From May to October is the cod-fishing season. The small
fishing-smacks, manned by a crew of six or a dozen men, look very
picturesque as they lie anchored in the fishing-grounds, with their
sails proudly quivering in the breeze. These smacks are equipped
with small boats called “dories,” which are frequently sent out some
distance from the smacks to make independent catches. At nightfall
these dories return with their treasure to the smack. Then begins the
work of slitting, cleaning, salting, and packing away in the hold.
To see an army of men brandishing their “slitters” over the silver
bellies of the fish in the moonlight is one of the weirdest sights
imaginable, when viewed from the deck of a passing liner.

The herring, salmon, and lobster fisheries are all of more or less
importance, and the perils attending the prosecution of the former
are many. The herring-fishing industry is subject to fluctuations
every season. At one time there was a great trade in the famous
Labrador herrings, but this has practically dwindled to nothing.
This disappearance of large and well-known schools of herring from
the Labrador coast has called forth many explanatory theories. One
authority on the subject suggests: “The practice heretofore adopted
of barring large masses of herring, causing many dead fish to sink
and thereby pollute the ground, is a partial reason, and it is not
unreasonable to suppose that the great increase of cod-traps at present
used in the Labrador cod-fishery, fencing off much of the coast-line,
has had the effect of preventing the herring from entering the bays, as
was their wont when the cod-fishery was prosecuted mainly by cod-seines
and hook and line. Schools of herring have recently been reported as
having been seen by Labrador fishermen, but farther from the land
than in former years; and it is not only possible, but probable, that
drift-net fishing on that coast would be attended with favourable
results, and go to prove that the herring had not really deserted the
coast, but were frequenting water clear of the cod-trap obstruction,
which may be said to be permanent, as the traps remain in the water
both day and night, whereas cod-seines are only used during the day.
The migration of the fish, it should be noted, is not an uncommon
occurrence in the history of the herring tribe in other countries.”

The most interesting of all the Newfoundland fisheries is
“whale-hunting,” as it is called, and so we shall endeavour in a
special chapter to describe one of these hunts as prosecuted in the
Arctic seas.



Although it may be many years before Newfoundland is known as an
agricultural country, every effort is now being made by the Government
to make known the richness of the soil in many sections of the country.
The fishing industry has been remunerative for so many generations that
little attention has been devoted to the possibilities of the soil,
and probably the close proximity of Canada, and its popularity as a
country of great rewards for emigrants who are prepared to till the
soil, have tended to keep Newfoundland in the background as a suitable
Colony for the agricultural emigrants from England and the Continent.
But whatever may be the future of agriculture, it is certain that the
timber and minerals of the island will be a growing source of revenue
each succeeding year.


Among the many minerals that have been discovered in Newfoundland are
copper, iron-ore, chromite, pyrites, nickel, antimony, lead, manganese,
silver, gold, slate, and coal. In the districts of Codroy Valley, Bay
St. George, and the upper reaches of the Humber River, coal is
considered to be plentiful, and British capitalists are now about to
develop these areas. Iron-ore, however, is the most abundant mineral
in the Colony, and Canadian companies have drawn millions of tons from
Bell Island, in Conception Bay. It is calculated that the troughs
in this island contain the enormous amount of 3,635,543,360 tons of
splendid iron-ore. Most of the ore goes to the large smelting-works of
the Dominion Iron and Steel Company, Sydney, Canada.

Many and dense are the great forests of Newfoundland. Those who were
ignorant of the wealth of timber said that there was no future for the
lumbering industry; but apart from the rapidly increasing exports of
lumber, syndicates are now buying up the forests as rapidly as they
can, in order to convert them into paper, upon which your stories,
novels, and general news are daily printed. Only recently Lord
Northcliffe has spent over 1,000,000 sterling in the erection of pulp
and paper mills on the River Exploits. Over 20,000 men will be employed
at the mills. The first paper manufactured in Newfoundland was at these
mills in November, 1909.

The River Exploits, on which the Northcliffe Mills are built, runs
through one of the finest lumbering sections of the Colony. “Between
the Grand Falls and Badger Brook, at many parts on both sides of the
main river, pine flourishes luxuriantly, much of which appears to be of
excellent quality, being often of fair diameter, straight, and tall.
These reaches also display a fine growth of other varieties of timber;
and at some parts, especially above the forks of Sandy Hook, white
birch often attains a very large size. About Red Indian Lake there is a
superb growth of pine and spruce of large size, straight and tall.”


In spite of the loneliness of his life, the logger is usually a
happy and a healthy man. You may miss the finely-chiselled features,
intelligent eyes, and refined speech when you confront these loggers;
but you have not spent a day in their camp before you realize that they
possess something more wonderful than the above-mentioned qualities:
they have a native wit, born of a struggle, year after year, with
natural forces. Many of them are able to measure a tree exactly by a
rapid glance of the eye from root to tip, and they can so manipulate
a falling tree that it shall drop within an inch of the spot on which
they desire it. If you entered one of their camps you would probably be
disappointed because it looked so small and clumsy in comparison with
modern villas; but if you stopped to examine one of their houses, and
thought of the thousands of miles separating the logger from what is
called advanced civilization, you would be deeply impressed by the
skill exhibited in the construction of these wooden dwellings. The
trunks of the pine are laid across the corners with discriminating
exactness, and between the pines are layers of moss compressed so
tightly by the weight of the trunks that neither wind, rain, nor snow
can find its unwelcome way to the interior. About twenty men are the
tenants of one of the improvised houses, and everyone takes care that
the rooms are kept clean and tidy. The long bedroom is divided into
sections by curtains, and at the one end of this is a large kitchen,
with a big cooking-stove running towards the centre, around which the
loggers smoke and tell yarns in the long winter evenings. Yes, the
stalwart sons of Newfoundland are brainy enough when the forces of
Nature call their brains into play. You can see them returning from the
woods with timber, roughly hewn at first; but if you were to inquire
for that same timber a few months afterwards you would be shown a
beautiful schooner that had already been out and fought a battle with
ice and wind, and now lay in the harbour, her sides bulging with fish,
their snow-white bellies glimmering in the sunlight.

The ingenuity of the Newfoundlander is seen at its best, probably, when
navigation opens in spring and the logs are sent down the river on
their mad rush to the mills. Over 50,000 logs, as soon as they feel the
impetus of a favouring wind, go tumbling over the rapids and down the
broad river. The men skip across the logs as lightly as the deer steps
from crag to crag. If the logs become jammed, in a few moments they are
set at liberty, and breast forward goes the whole army once more. It is
exhilarating labour. One great expanse of forest, field and water, a
clear blue sky above, a fresh breeze blowing, the haunting cry of the
great northern diver--who in the heart of a smoke-laden city would not
sigh for a life such as this? When the logger’s work is finished in the
evening he can sit by the side of the river, or take a punt across the
lake and throw out his line for a few hours of sport with the salmon,
trout, and other fishes.

One of the great charms of Newfoundland is the strong wind, that
seldom rests a single day. Just as the sea gets into the blood of the
fisherman and continually lures him to the “long dim rollers,” so the
wind gets into the blood of the logger and lures him to the music of
the forests.

    “O wild west wind, thou breath of autumn’s being,
     Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves, dead,
     Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

            *       *       *       *       *

     Wild spirit which art moving everywhere.”

What wild music the wind draws from the harp-strings of the pine! The
clusters of spruce-trees quiver to their roots. Shrieking before the
blast, the gulls skim down to their coverts in the rocks, only to rise
again in a few moments, for one can tell that they love the wind as
much as they love the sea.

Through that narrow gorge between two rugged cliffs the wind comes
joyously on. It ruffles the moss on the slopes of the hills, scatters
the scarlet leaves of the raspberry-trees, and sends the waters of
the large blue lakes leaping in frolicsome waves up the beach to the
feet of the rocking pines. Behind the hills to the west the clouds are
tinged with amber, silver, and gold, and the clang of the woodman’s axe
is caught in the clutches of the wind, to be carried o’er chasm and
crag far out to sea. Yes, half the joy of life in Newfoundland is to be
found in its soul-haunting wind. And those who have known the din of
London’s busy streets appreciate it most. May the woodman still sing
and chop, and may the wind still play its music to the spirits of the
Indians who may still be dancing around camp-fires, invisible to mortal



The most impressive feature about the railway in Newfoundland is that
it should exist at all. Twenty years ago the late Sir Robert Reid began
to invade the trackless wilderness with an army of navvies, and in a
very short time the iron horses went snorting and panting through the
lonely woods and desolate tracts that form the vast interior of the
island. Only a great mind could have surmounted the obstacles that
confronted the undertaker of so gigantic a scheme. There were mountains
and rivers to evade, stretches of water to bridge over, granite rocks
to pierce, swampy land and thick forests to avoid, and last, but not
least, the selection of a route that should be not only the best
commercially, but also the best from the standpoint of picturesqueness.

From St. John’s, the starting-point, to Port-aux-Basques, the
terminus, is a distance of 548 miles, and the journey is covered
in about twenty-eight hours. The track is a narrow gauge, and the
engines are not so large as the passenger engines of England; but over
many sections of the track a speed of thirty-five miles an hour is
attained. The route is very circuitous, some of the curves being so
sharp that from your seat in the carriage you can see the engine and
the first two or three coaches taking the curve.

The coaches--or cars, as they are called in Newfoundland--are like
those in America. They are not divided into compartments to accommodate
ten persons, five on each side; nor do you enter from the side of the
car. You enter at the end, and take your seat with fifty or sixty other
people. There is an aisle down the centre, with seats on either side
capable of accommodating two passengers. You can walk down the aisle
the full length of the train. There are a dining-car and a sleeping-car
attached to the train, and there are also small compartments at one end
of the cars reserved for the use of smokers. When the meals are ready
in the dining-car, an attendant walks through each car to announce the
fact to the passengers. You do not pay so much for the meal, but call
for just what your taste requires, and pay for that only.

There are no ticket-collectors, as in England, whose duty it is to
examine or collect your ticket; but, as in America, a man is kept on
the train continually to perform those duties, and to announce the name
of the stopping-places as the train approaches them.

When bedtime arrives, a coloured man enters your car and pulls down
a sort of shelf, which is called an “upper berth,” the “lower berth”
being the seats converted into a very comfortable bed. Curtains are
drawn in front of your bed, so that you are hidden from the view of
the other passengers. If you choose an upper berth, you climb into it
by means of a small step-ladder, and then begins that very difficult
task of taking your trousers off while lying on your back. It takes a
good deal of practice to perform this feat successfully when the train
is running along at full speed, and I have known many a traveller give
it up in despair, choosing rather to sleep in his pants than attempt
the operation. It is no less difficult to put your pants on again next
morning, and it is very laughable to see some passenger peeping over
the top of his curtain to see if the line is clear, so that he can jump
down into the aisle and dress in an upright attitude.

When you have managed to get your pants and vest on, you go into the
compartment at the end of the “sleeper” reserved for washing. This
also requires a little practice, for if the train takes a curve when
you are washing, you are apt to find yourself thrown on the head of a
fellow-passenger in the act of lacing up his boots; or if the train
pulls up, it is probable that your head comes in contact with the
mirror over the washstand. The most difficult performance of all,
however, is shaving while the train is in motion, and if you find a
passenger at breakfast with a piece of sticking-plaster on his chin,
you will know that he has been trying his hand at that exceedingly
difficult feat.

The route followed by the Reid Newfoundland Railway is most
picturesque, and although you are twenty-eight hours reaching
Port-aux-Basques from St. John’s, the time seems to pass by very
quickly. At intervals the engine pulls up at a water-shed for five
or ten minutes, and the passengers all jump off into the tangle of
shrubbery to stretch their legs, and, if it is autumn, gather a few
handfuls of raspberries, strawberries, and blue-berries. It is great
fun to see the passengers rush for the train when the big bell on the
engine gives the signal for restarting, some of them dropping their
fruit in the scramble up the high steps of the cars.

Mile upon mile of the land over which the train travels is uninhabited,
and you cannot help thinking how strange it is that this delightful
country has not been cultivated, and how you would like to bring out
some of the teeming millions eking out a miserable existence in the
crowded cities of Europe.

From Deer Lake to Port-aux-Basques the railway passes through mountain,
vale, and forest and the scenery lying between Long Range and the
Gulf of St. Lawrence is full of beauty and variety. As you step on to
the steamship _Bruce_ to cross the Cabot Strait for Canada, you look
back upon the old English Colony of Newfoundland with the happiest of
recollections, mingled with a good deal of genuine regret, for you have
found the Newfoundlanders a great-hearted people, the air exhilarating,
and the scenery inspiring. It is then that you understand why the
Newfoundlander, though he may leave his beautiful “sea-girt isle” for
a season, finds no rest for the sole of his foot outside the land that
gave him birth.




By so many generations has Newfoundland been looked upon as an island
of damp and dreary swamp that it will be many years before that
erroneous impression is dispelled. And yet what a beautiful land it
is! The inhabitants themselves do not fully appreciate the wealth of
scenery with which Providence has so abundantly enriched them. It is
true that one is not met by the garden-like scenery of England, to
the making of which so many human hands have been devoted; but there
is probably no country in the world that can present such a sublime
panorama of natural scenery.

The massive rocks have been carved into myriads of picturesque angles
by the merciless swish of the waves that for thousands of years have
rolled and rolled across the broad Atlantic. The beauty of the velvet
moss on the inland slopes of these rocks is best revealed when the play
of the sea-wind creates on its surface a thousand ripples of light
and shade. In the rich blue water below the outlines of the rocks are
reflected, and a few yards out at sea a flock of gulls can usually
be seen, either rising and falling with the movements of the waves or
wheeling around one of the smaller rocks that only at intervals shows
its head above the water.

If you were to stand upon the rocks near St. John’s Harbour in the
early spring, you would catch a glimpse of the fishing-fleet off to
the grounds on its annual expedition. Their white sails frolic in the
breeze, and as they dip their bows in the troughs between the heaving
billows they present a sight the enchantment of which is not readily
forgotten. Or you may see the sealing-fleet, at the sight of which you
wonder how many will return safely to port, and how many, alas! may be
pounded to pieces by the great boulders of ice that race along with
break-neck speed under the impetus of the Arctic current.

Probably the prettiest scenery is to be found in the region of the
Humber River and Valley. The Humber River is on the west coast. It runs
through a spacious area of forest, valley, and field. Under the shadow
of the spruce-trees skirting the river the sensitive caribou may be
seen taking their morning drink; or in the evening they may be seen on
a treeless patch at the top of a hill, stretching their slender legs,
between you and the setting sun. The banks of the river are flanked
with clusters of azalea and blue-berry, and every twist of the stream
introduces you to a new, alluring piece of scenery. Sometimes you are
awed by the giant rocks towering above your head, their white granite
ribs glimmering in the sunlight. Now it is an open space, through
which a long procession of trees, bowing their tips to the east,
extend a welcome to the fox, the bear, and the Arctic hare; now it is
a wilderness of tree-stumps that stand motionless in a vast expanse
of luxuriant undergrowth and infant trees struggling to maintain
life in the company of their long-dead ancestors. By many tourists
these remnants of forest fires are looked upon as disfigurements of
the landscape; but they have a beauty that is peculiar to all dead
things--the beauty of death.

How the angler loves to whip the water of the Humber River! He knows
that the salmon will respond to his call. He also loves to hear the
gentle dip of the oars, and every swish of his line is full of music.
The wild-duck, the water-fowl, and the rock ptarmigan are his shy
companions. And when meal-time arrives his appetite finds relief in a
hearty meal cooked over a fire on the bank of the river.

Much of the inland scenery is also magnificent. A ramble through the
forests on a summer day is a source of refreshment and inspiration. In
the vicinity of Grand Falls, where the Exploits River goes tumbling to
Notre Dame Bay, the landscapes are as picturesque as any that are to be
seen in Wales. Since the erection there of large pulp and paper mills
by Lord Northcliffe the district has become a hive of industry. The
clang, clang of the woodman’s axe rings out through the forest, and the
song of the logger can be heard in the distance as he hauls his logs to
the water’s edge, to send them down the river, to be turned into paper
at the mills.

There goes the woodman to the work of felling the timber. The path
along which he trudges to his toil winds like a snake through
labyrinths of trees, the soft colours of which are so restful to the
eyes. The air is filled with the scent of the spruce-trees, and it
clings to your lips like honey. Through these forests the Indians at
one time hunted for game, and who shall say that their spirits do
not linger still among their wild and much-loved haunts? The path
is carpeted with moss that feels like a sponge beneath your feet.
The greenish-grey tint of the lichen clinging to the trees is most
effective when it stands in the shadows a little removed from the
pathway. The larch, the pine, and the birch lift their proud heads
above the spruce-trees, the white of the pine glimmering like silver
in the sunlight. If the stillness of the woods is broken at all, it is
by the thud of the woodman’s axe, the sound of falling water, or the
weird, haunting note of the woodpecker.

Apart from the scenery that is observable when standing on land, there
is the majestic scenery observable from the steamer as you take a
sea-trip from, let us say, St. John’s to Notre Dame Bay. The steamers
usually call at places of interest and beauty in Conception Bay,
Trinity Bay, and the Fogo Islands on the east coast, as well as Fortune
Bay on the south coast and Bay of Islands on the west coast. The coasts
of Newfoundland are indented by so many bays, harbours, coves, and
tickles that the scene is continually changing. In fact, so enchanting
are the coasts viewed from the sea that if the weather is fine it is
impossible to spend a monotonous moment on deck.



If the Atlantic Ocean is associated with mystery and romance, it is
associated with tragedy too. Alas! how many of its tragedies are
unrecorded upon the pages of history! Until the sea gives up its dead,
many of the deeds that have been perpetrated upon its bosom will remain
as obscure as the treasures at the base of its restless waters.

Off the coast of Newfoundland many were the diabolical deeds of
pirates in the days that are no more. Very few have found their way
to the written page, but the fishermen have handed them down by word
of mouth from generation to generation. The following tale of plunder
and carnage by the pirates of the eighteenth century was given to
the writer by a Newfoundlander, who received it from the lips of the
grandson of the hero.

The hero was crossing the Atlantic as a cabin-boy on a vessel trading
between England and Newfoundland. The vessel made excellent progress,
and the crew were in jubilant spirits, anticipating a safe arrival at
their destined haven, where they would discharge cargo and load up
fish for the English market. But as they drew near to the shore of
Newfoundland, they sighted a ship in the distance bearing down upon
them. In a short time the black flag was run up on the approaching
vessel, and all knew that a pirate bold was chasing them. To escape was
impossible, as the pirate showed herself a much smarter vessel than the
merchantman. There was no means of escape from the deadly ship. She was
bound for plunder, and therefore neither property nor life would hinder
her crew in their villainous work. They knew that the merchant ship was
outward bound, and in her lockers would be gold wherewith to purchase
her homeward cargo. They were after this gold, for the greed of their
calling had entirely overcome them.

After a broadside or two from the pirate the merchant ship hove up, and
was soon boarded by their enemies. Mercy there was none, and death and
carnage were on every hand.

Our hero was the youngest of the crew, and he looked in horror at the
butchery about him. His shipmates, who a few hours before were so
hopeful and buoyant, were all murdered before his eyes, or had been
made to walk the plank. Somehow his life was spared, and when the
pirates left the ship, they took him as a living prize, in addition to
the ill-gotten gold which they had plundered. Thus the young English
sailor became one of a pirate’s crew, and for a year or two he
witnessed much of their deadly doings. He began to wonder how long he
would be held a prisoner, and would a chance offer whereby he would
be rescued from his captivity. The ship by which he was captured had
made calls at different ports during his stay on board, and the last
place she visited was within the headlands of Conception Bay, where the
proceeds of their ocean chase, in the form of money and plate, had been

It was on one of these occasions that the daring pirate met her own
doom, and, like the merchant ship which she had destroyed, she too went
to the bottom. At the place mentioned the booty was hidden, and a few
days were taken for the purpose of refitting. This done, the anchors
were weighed, and sail was set for another cruise. Just as everything
was in full swing a sail hove in sight, and the pirate thought that
more prey was within her reach. But she very soon discovered her
mistake, and realized her own danger, for as the ships neared each
other their true colours were seen, and their opposite characters
clearly known. One was a pirate, the other a British man-o’-war--a
frigate. At once the frigate gave chase, and the pirate made a
desperate effort to outsail her; but the odds were too great: the
man-o’-war was too many guns for her, and so her doom was fixed.

[Illustration: STEADYBROOK FALLS.]

The commander of the pirate, on seeing his predicament, called all
the crew to the quarter, and told them that he would prefer death to
capture, and that rather than be beaten he would blow up his ship.
With this he took his stand near the powder magazine. Our young hero
was well aft at the time, and, like all his companions, he saw death
only a few minutes from him. Closer and closer the frigate came, and
yet the bold pirate struck not his flag. To the last minute he bade
defiance to his pursuers. The first shot from the frigate struck the
pirate’s mizzen-mast and shattered it to pieces. Hope was now gone,
and the bold pirate saw his doom was near at hand. He had waylaid many
a ship and put to death many a brave crew, but now the tables were
turned, and upon his own head his deeds were to be visited. Thus when
the critical moment came he fired the magazine, and in a few minutes it
was all over. The explosion was terrific. Shattered and blackened, the
pirate heeled over, and, with most of her crew, found a resting-place
at the bottom of the waters between Bell Island and the mainland.

The hero of our story, on seeing the captain fire the magazine, made
a desperate effort to escape, and jumped off the ship’s stern as far
as he could leap. This action gave him some space, as he had the leap
from the taffrail, in addition to the little distance that the ship
would sail in the few last minutes. Being able to swim, he had not much
difficulty in keeping himself afloat until the boats from the frigate
picked him up. He, of course, had nothing to fear. What meant death to
his captors was life and freedom for him. Even if his ship had not
been blown up, and they had all been captured, he would have escaped
any blame whatever.

On being rescued and taken on board the frigate, he told his story--how
the ship had been captured and her crew murdered. The frigate continued
her course, and, running out of the bay, she scoured the ocean in quest
of any other such ships as that she had so recently defeated.

At the expiration of her commission she returned to England, and in
due time our sailor lad arrived at his home, after an absence of four
years, during which time he had been mourned as lost. The English lad
did not know exactly in what spot the treasure was buried, as he was
not taken in the boat when it was hidden. He acquainted the captain of
the frigate of its whereabouts, however; but as at that date all those
places were thickly wooded, it was not likely that the spot could be
located without much research. The ship, therefore, did not delay for
any length of time in such an out-of-the-way place.

This is only one of the many pirate tales told by the fishermen of
Newfoundland. In the long cold winter evenings, when the family gather
around the stove in the kitchen, the grey-haired sea-rovers love to
relate thrilling tales of the old pirate days, and the same tales, I
suppose, will be handed down from generation to generation.



Among all the dangers and discomforts of seafaring life on the
Atlantic, there is nothing a captain so much dreads as contact with the
great mountains of ice that come floating down the Newfoundland coast
from the Arctic Ocean. Fog, rain, snow, and blizzards may be fought and
overpowered, but it is seldom that an ocean liner survives a collision
with an iceberg. Some of these encounters with the “Arctic travellers,”
as they are called, are most thrilling. Upon even the darkest night the
white apparel of these giant ghosts can be detected in time to avert
disaster; but when the fog is thick across the bows of the steamer,
then it is that the nerves of a captain and crew are tested.

One of the most appalling collisions with an iceberg was in May, 1876,
when off the coast of Labrador the _Caledonia_, with eighty-two souls
on board, came in contact with an unwelcome wanderer. Seventy-one of
the passengers and crew went down with the vessel under the shadow of
the berg. The remaining eleven converted their grim assailant into
a tower of refuge. For three days and three nights they lodged in a
crevice of the berg, keeping life in their bodies by eating a seal
which they killed, until they were ultimately rescued by the crew of a
fishing-boat that passed by on the morning of the fourth day.

An even more painful disaster occurred off Cape Race in the year 1885.
Seventy-four people were on board the _Vaillant_ when she left the
shores of Brittany on her way to Ste. Pierre, a small French possession
to the South of Newfoundland. All went well until Cape Race was
reached, when she crashed into an iceberg and sank in less than fifteen
minutes. Only twelve of the crew were able to save themselves from the
fate of the sixty-two who sank with the vessel. These twelve managed to
escape in two boats, but they were adrift on the ocean for over a week.
As they had neither time nor opportunity to save food or clothing from
the stricken vessel, some of them died of starvation, and their bodies
were eaten to sustain life in their comrades. It was bitterly cold, and
so their number soon became reduced to four. When these four survivors
were picked up, the frost had played such havoc with their hands and
feet that amputation was the only means of saving their lives.

The following account of a similar disaster in the Arctic seas is even
more thrilling than the above. It is from the pen of Mr. P. T. McGrath,
a Newfoundland journalist.

“In 1881 the Greely Expedition, sent into the Arctic regions by the
United States Government, established itself at Lady Franklin Bay
for a three years’ sojourn. Two years later the Newfoundland sealer
_Proteus_ was sent north with stores and supplies to be landed at Cape
Sabine, at the head of Melville Bay, for the use of the explorers when
they retreated to that spot. The ship, however, was pushed into the
ice in that bay by the orders of the inexperienced American officer
in charge of the expedition, and she was crushed so that she sank
within an hour, not an article aboard being saved, and the crew having
themselves to make a three-hundred-mile voyage in open boats to South
Greenland, where a collier picked them up and brought them home again.
When the explorers came south in October they found themselves faced
with the certainty of absolute starvation and the terrible prospect
that not a man in the party would escape the worst of deaths, for they
were marooned on a desolate Arctic headland, without shelter, food, or
firing, with not a human being for hundreds of miles, and absolutely
no hope of relief under the most favourable outlook for six or eight
months. It is impossible to give anything like an idea of the terrible
tortures these thirty-one humans endured during this desperate winter.
After they had consumed their scanty supplies which they brought
with them in their boats from the north, they had to maintain life
by means of shellfish caught with their naked hands along the shore,
and then to make an unpalatable yet acceptable mess of their sealskin
boots and garments, until at last, as the less robust of the party
died, the others kept themselves alive by the dreadful alternative of
cannibalism. When the two strongest of the Newfoundland seal fleet,
purchased by the American Government, and equipped at the cost of
$250,000, were pushed north the next spring, at a date earlier than
the Arctic Circle had ever been entered before, only six of the party
remained alive to tell the tale of a fight against death absolutely
unique in the records of marine adventure in any part of the known

During the year 1909 the icebergs off the Newfoundland coast were
more numerous than for many years previously. Some scientists have
attributed it to an icequake in the Arctic Regions, which broke up the
vast continent of ice there. The great boulders having gained their
freedom, they were brought down towards the south on the bosom of the
Arctic current. From Cabot Tower, on Signal Hill, near St. John’s, as
many as two hundred bergs were seen to pass by in a majestic procession
during one day, and this in the month of June. Lest it may be thought
that the air in St. John’s would be of a frigid nature during this
procession, it is only just to say that the weather was as charming
as June weather in England. It was at this time that the Allan liner
_Mongolian_ was jammed in the ice outside St. John’s Harbour for
several days, and the people of St. John’s, for the first time in fifty
years, saw the novel spectacle of passengers descending from the liner
and walking across the ice to the shore.

Another species of iceberg with which navigators have to contend is
the “growler,” a berg which just peers above the water, and carries
its greatest bulk below. Sometimes it is impossible to detect these,
however keen the lookout may be, until the captain experiences a bump
at the bow, and finds that an iron plate has been smashed in by the
force of the impact.



There are no boys in the world more plucky than the sons of the
fisher-folk of Newfoundland. If every tale of daring and heroism on the
coastal waters were related, only a bulky volume could possibly contain
them. There seems to be no fear in the hearts of these lads, and their
endurance in times of distress is amazing.

At the time of writing there comes to hand a story of the sufferings
of two boys living at Harbour Breton who, a few weeks ago, strayed in
a dory from the fishing-grounds. Sometimes a fog will suddenly spread
itself over the fishing-grounds, thus making the return to land a very
difficult and hazardous task to inexperienced juveniles. One of these
treacherous fogs had set in on this occasion, and in rowing to land,
as they thought, the boys were unfortunate enough to lose their way.
For four days and three nights they tugged at the oars of their little
boat, and at last reached the land near La Poile in an exhausted and
almost starving condition.

When the boys saw the shroud of fog enveloping the fishing-grounds
they pulled up the “killok,” and evidently, as they thought, began to
row towards the shore. They had been pulling at the oars for about
two hours without any knowledge of the direction in which they were
going. Through a slight “lift” of the fog they caught sight of two
fishermen in a dory with sail set, and in the hope that they had a
compass on board, they inquired if they were on the right course. The
two fishermen informed the boys that they were on the wrong course, and
then gave them instructions in which direction they were to row. The
next six hours were devoted to strenuous pulling of the oars; but as
they could not hear the familiar sound of the surf driving on the land,
there was no alternative but to anchor for the night. Alas! when they
threw out the “killok” they found that the “rode” was too short for the
anchor to reach the bottom. So once more they were forced to take the
oars in hand and row forward.

[Illustration: SEALS ON “PACK-ICE”]

A breeze had suddenly sprung up from the north-east, accompanied by a
choppy sea, and the slender craft not only began to take in water, but
it started to drift. All night long the boys alternately bailed out the
water and endeavoured to keep the nose of the dory towards the sea.
When the first faint streaks of light appeared on the eastern horizon
the boat was still drifting, and they both became fatigued for want
of food and sleep. All day long she drifted on, and when darkness came
there was only the prospect of another night at sea, without sleep
and food. They had with them a small loaf of bread, which, although
saturated with water in the bottom of the craft, they decided to gather
up and lay aside for the time when the pangs of hunger were no longer

The wind did not abate until the following night, and as they had some
vague idea that land was not very far off, they rowed all through the
night until daylight appeared once more. During the day they were
compelled to eat the saturated loaf; and as the third night drew near
their throats became parched with thirst, and their tongues had swollen
to such an extent that conversation between them was almost impossible.
In the dory were five frozen herrings and a codfish, which the boys
decided to eat while the boat drifted about until the morning. They
had no sooner swallowed their unpalatable meal, however, than they
were seized with vomiting and excruciating pains in their stomachs. In
spite of their sufferings, they took up the oars once more, and, though
extremely weak, did their best to row on they knew not whither.

Sixty hours without sleep or food, with their clothes frozen as stiff
as boards, was a great test of courage and physical endurance; but they
were determined not to abandon hope until their strength and senses
were completely overpowered.

The fourth day found them still rowing aimlessly through the fog.
Towards evening it seemed as though they were to lay down their oars
and abandon themselves to the mercy of the sea. But the sound of guns
in the distance inspired them with hope, for they instinctively knew
that someone was shooting birds on the land. They called into play
the remaining strength they had, and rowed in the direction whence
the reports of the gun had come. In a short time the little dory came
slowly into the harbour, and the men who had been shooting birds,
seeing their pitiable condition, ran down to their assistance. So
exhausted were these two little fisher-boys that they had to be lifted
out of the dory. The rescuers at once placed them upon their shoulders,
and hurried off with them to the nearest habitation, where every
kindness was extended to them by the fisher-folk of La Poile.

During this perilous adventure it is said that they must have rowed at
least 120 miles. But to-day the brave little fellows laugh over their
experiences, and tell you jokingly that they think they are now fully
qualified to take their position with the hardy members of the banking



The Newfoundland dog is known and loved all over the world, and he is
deserving of that popularity and esteem. What a noble and gentle animal
he is, with his soft, brown, sympathetic eyes, shining black coat,
strong-set legs, and commanding head! How the children love him! And
how he loves the children! It is a common sight to see him harnessed,
drawing a small cart in which is seated a little child. You can tell by
the joyous wag of his tail, and his proud walk, that he appreciates the
task of drawing his infant queen through the country lanes when she is
taking her morning constitutional. In the winter-time he enters fully
into the pastimes of the boys and girls, and enjoys a frolic in the
snow just as much as they. When the lakes are frozen over, and the snow
lies hard upon the ground, “Bobby” is harnessed to a little sleigh, and
off he bounds with a heart as light as air, drawing his little chum to
the music of the bells that dangle round his glossy neck.

It is said that the home of these noble dogs was originally Portugal,
and that they were brought to Newfoundland in the fifteenth century
by Portuguese fishermen. Since their importation, however, they have
so much improved that they are now accepted as the most sagacious
and intelligent representatives of the canine species. When the late
King Edward VII. made his famous tour in 1860, he was presented with
a Newfoundland dog, and he valued the gift very highly. Another dog
was also presented to the present King at the close of the nineteenth
century. Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, refers to this breed in his
poem entitled “Twa Dogs”:

    “... whalpit some place far abroad,
     Whare sailors gang to fish for cod.”

The thoroughbred is not so plentiful in Newfoundland now; in fact, it
is difficult to purchase the genuine breed. In his place there has
sprung up another type of dog, lacking the sagacity and beauty of the
original, and displaying a ferocity which sometimes strikes terror into
the hearts of Newfoundlanders. Frequently these dogs are to be seen
in the daytime lying in a group in the forests, waiting for nightfall
in order to raid the sheep-folds and fowl-roosts of the vicinity.
Sometimes three or four of them will track a resident to his home; but
if they are faced fearlessly, they are cowardly enough to turn on their
heels and scamper away.

When a genuine Newfoundland dog is trained as a life-saver, he
displays wonderful intelligence, strength and courage. If you were
to make inquiries among the fisher-folk in the out-ports, they would
relate scores of incidents where boys and girls have been saved from
a watery grave by the efforts of well-trained animals. The following
story is one among many others:

Tom Martin was the son of a fisherman, and he lived on the north shore
of Conception Bay. His father had been drowned while seal-hunting, and
so Tom was the only support of his mother and two little sisters. He
had a favourite Newfoundland dog, named Bob, and wherever you saw Tom
you were certain to see Bob, except in the little dory that Tom used
to fish from. Tom never would allow Bob to accompany him on a fishing
expedition, because he was afraid that if he became frolicsome he might
upset the boat. One beautiful morning in summer, however, as Tom was
preparing to row out to catch fish, Bob howled so piteously that Tom
found it hard to leave the shore without him. Three times he threw him
out of the boat, but it was all in vain: Bob had made up his mind to go
in the boat, and so he went. They had been in their little dory about
two hours when the wind changed, the sky darkened, and a storm began to
loom in the distance. Tom was not afraid of it. He had been in storms
before. The storm, however, began to increase in velocity. The wind
howled, and the waves grew bigger and bigger. Tom began to pull towards
the shore. Bob did not seem quite so comfortable. He was being tossed
from side to side; but he kept his large brown eyes firmly fixed on
Tom except for an occasional shake of the head when the spray of the
tumbling water splashed his glossy ears. As the wind increased and the
waves mounted higher, Tom began to feel a little nervous, for there
was still half a mile between him and the shore. He continued to tug
at the oars, and admonished the dog to “keep still.” “It’s all right,
Bob,” said the boy. It was not all right, and the dog seemed to think
so. In a few moments the inevitable happened. A huge wave switched the
boat on to its side, and it failed to right itself again, Tom and Bob
were pitched into the sea, and the boat quickly drifted out of reach.
Tom saw that it was now a matter of life or death. Being an excellent
swimmer, and seeing that it was useless to try to regain the boat,
he struck out with might and main for the shore. A great difficulty
confronted him, however, for the dog whined and struck out madly at him
with his paws. “Get away, Bob; you’ll drown me!” shouted Tom. But Bob
only howled all the more, as he splashed round the heels of his little
master. Tom continued to strike out for land, kicking the dog’s head
whenever he could. Bob now came up to the boy’s shoulder, and struck
him several times on the back, knocking him under water. Had the dog
gone mad? thought Tom. What was he trying to do? If Tom could only have
read his faithful dog’s mind!

The boy was now not more than fifty yards from the shore, but he was
almost exhausted. Would he reach home again? While this thought flashed
through his mind, he heard a voice from the shore shouting: “Put yer
arm round ’is neck, Tom.” Tom immediately obeyed, and the dog’s whine
changed into a joyous bark. In a few minutes the boy was safe on his
native soil, with Bob dancing round, wagging his tail, and licking
his little master’s face. Tom put his arms around the dog’s neck and
whispered in his ear: “Thank you, Bobby. I shall understand you better
the next time.”




Whale-hunting around Newfoundland was almost abandoned for many years,
but during the last fifteen years it has been prosecuted with such
vigour that its value has increased from $1,581 in 1897 to $168,131 in
1909. According to authentic records, the most commercially valuable
whale, the _Balæna mysticetus_, disappeared from Newfoundland waters
in 1850, and the fin-whales, bottle-noses, blue whales, hump-backs,
and common rorquals were considered of no value for whalebone. Their
yield of oil was not so abundant, and their pursuit in small boats was
hazardous on account of their great activity when attacked.

Until the year 1880 harpoons were the weapons used in hunting the
whale, but in that year a Norwegian sailor named Svend Foyn invented
the harpoon gun, the explosive shells of which kill the whale
instantly. It requires a great deal of skill on the part of the
operator to force home the harpoon at the right time and in the right
place, for the whales display more intelligence than one would expect
from a monster so clumsy. Moreover, they are stalwart sea warriors,
and never surrender until entirely played out. Frequently the hunters
pursue them for miles, and are probably disappointed at last. A school
of whales may be sighted a long distance off, and then the hunters
make a dash for sport. On more than one occasion these sportsmen have
reached the school a few moments too late, for with a splash and a
plunge the whales have gone below, as if conscious that they were
surrounded by an enemy thirsting for their blood.

To the deck of the whaler is fixed a large and powerful windlass, which
answers the same purpose as an angler’s rod and line. When the whale
feels the effect of the shot he darts madly downwards, dragging with
him several lengths of rope. He is then “played” until his strength
appears to be spent. The crew then attach the rope to the windlass,
and begin to haul the monster in. This act calls for very cautious
performance, for the giant prey may suddenly take another spurt,
hauling with him lengths of the rope once more. When he is at last
beaten and lies a panting, puffing mass on the surface of the water, a
small boat is sent out, from which he is given his death-blow by means
of a small steel lance.

From his watery slaughter-house the giant fish is led to the flensing
slip, where the labour of cutting and carving begins. The flensing
slip is a slanting wharf, up which the body of the whale is hauled by
heavy chains and a windlass. The butchers then take their long knives
and cut off the outer coat of blubber, which is from 18 inches to 2
feet wide. Then great joints are cut up and passed through a machine
that strips them into slices as thin as a quarter of an inch. The next
operation is the drawing off of the oil by means of heated vats. When
the oil has been extracted, the remains, instead of being left to rot
in the sun, as formerly, are now manufactured into a guano to scatter
across the cotton plantations of the Southern States of America. The
“teeth” of the whale are washed and dried and packed ready for market.
These “teeth” are the celebrated whalebone, for which there is always a
ready market in all parts of the world.

Although the flesh of the whale is not so marketable as the flesh of
many other fishes, some of the joints are considered as delicate and
tender as an English beefsteak. The people of the Orient think a slice
of the whale’s tail a great delicacy.

What will be the future of the whaling industry of Newfoundland it is
not safe to predict, for the rorquals do not breed so abundantly as
other commercial fishes. Norway has found it a profitable industry for
a great many years, but it may be that the energetic prosecution of
whaling in all the favoured waters of the ocean will tend to diminish
the genus of rorquals. At present, however, there is no apparent
diminution of this profitable and exciting calling in the waters
scoured by the whalers of Newfoundland.



Now Newfoundland is becoming better known, the living treasures of her
forests, moors, and waters are attracting an annually increasing number
of sportsmen from Great Britain, the United States, and Canada. “Far
from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,” the sportsman may return for
a season to the simpler life lived by races of men in the days when
modern commercial methods were undreamed of, when the starry sky was
the hunter’s jewelled roof, when the spongelike moss was his pillow,
when time was not divided into sections, and he was not forced to

    “How many hours bring about the day;
     How many days will finish up the year;
     How many years a mortal man may live.”

Except where the snort of the engine is heard, or the song of the
fisherman repairing his nets comes through the ravine, or the whistle
of the woodman accompanies the clang of his axe, the country is as wild
and natural and silent as when it first drank in the showers of heaven,
and laughed in the sunshine of a summer day.

Among the larger game are the caribou and bears; foxes, lynxes and
wolves are also plentiful, as are the otter, mink, Arctic hare, and
the rabbit. The caribou is most graceful in appearance, usually weighs
about 500 pounds, and its antlers are a treasure much coveted by
sportsmen all the world over. The caribou is a most sensitive animal,
and unless the huntsman has made a study of its movements, he may have
some difficulty in bringing his prey to earth. Many of the huntsmen
take a supply of provisions into the caribou regions, and, with the aid
of a guide, move from place to place, spending the night in the open
or in a small tent. Of course, if they wait until the season when the
animals migrate from the north to the south of the island, they are
more certain of good sport; but sometimes that season is too cold to be
thoroughly enjoyed by the huntsman, who likes to take his sport under
as comfortable conditions as possible.

Ptarmigan-shooting is another favourite sport among the tourists, and
is enjoyed no less by the inhabitants. The ptarmigan very closely
resembles the red grouse of Scotland, and in the months of October and
November hundreds of these birds are shot and forwarded to St. John’s,
where they are readily purchased by the residents, who consider them
unsurpassed as a table delicacy. The wild berries that ripen in August
and September make a palatable food for the ptarmigan, and the effect
of this diet is registered in their plump, rich, and tender flesh.

If you were sitting under the shade of a tree by a secluded pond in
the months of June and July, you would doubtless see a fine large bird
moving gracefully along the edge of the water, followed by a procession
of smaller birds. This is the wild-goose leading her children towards
the brooks, and if the sportsman is wise enough to avoid suspicion on
the part of the leader, he may rely upon bagging one or two remarkably
fine birds.

The plover and the curlew are more abundant than other birds. They
usually come in flocks from their breeding quarters in Labrador, and
their rather awkward flight is perhaps attributable to the weight of
the fat stomachs they have to carry along with them. They are not
sought assiduously by sportsmen, but they supply the woodmen, farmers,
and fishermen with a very acceptable dish.

More than one-quarter of Newfoundland is covered by water, and all the
lakes and fiords are stocked with fish, thus making them an angler’s
paradise. Some anglers prefer travelling from 50 to 200 miles from St.
John’s in order to whip the rivers and streams that are known to yield
excellent salmon. Nevertheless, good salmon-fishing can be procured
within a few hours from the capital.

One of the most popular angling resorts is Log Cabin, on the west
coast. The hotel is situated in the heart of some of Newfoundland’s
most bewitching scenery. It is kept by two Englishmen, and was built
in accordance with their own designs. High mountains slope down to
the pretty English garden, which is stocked with native flowers; but
the most surprising flower of all is the foxglove, the sight of which
transports one to the lanes and meadows of old England. Harry’s Brook,
which is really a river, rolls along at the foot of the mountain
through a tangle of ferns and flowers, and through bright blue eyes the
iris looks up at the scarlet cheeks of the wild raspberries. Here, when
the day’s sport is ended, the angler sits in his easy-chair under the
wide veranda of the Log Cabin, watching the sunset over that panorama
of beauty the Bay of Islands.

[Illustration: A HUNTER’S CAMP]

Angling in the lakes for trout is also a delightful sport. Within
ten miles of St. John’s there are large expanses of water that are
alive with Loch Leven and Californian rainbow trout. On a charming
June morning you decide to leave the city and spend the day with rod
and line upon the lakes in your little canvas boat. You see that your
conveyance contains a kettle, a teapot, and a good supply of food, for
when you reach the side of the lake you will find it almost impossible
to satisfy your hunger. Away you start at a rattling pace, and in a
short time you find yourself in the heart of primitive scenery. What
does it matter if the trout refuse to bite? The air has given you a
new lease of life, the blue sky has got into your soul, the odour of
the avenues of spruce-trees makes you smack your lips, and at every
turn in the road you are greeted by some stream that babbles through a
cluster of ferns and flowers. Then your horse creeps panting up a steep
hill, whose summit introduces you to a glimpse of the great Atlantic,
or a quaint little fishing village sleeping in a cuplike hollow near
the seashore. At last you reach the lake, unharness the horse, prepare
your rod and line, fix your boat on the water, and lure your fish to
the surface of the lake by the aid of your “Silver Doctor,” for that is
the fly that seems best to tempt the palate of the “rainbow,” and “Loch
Leven.” When you have whipped the water for a few hours, you suddenly
get a telegraphic message from your stomach that it is time to dine.
You pull up to the edge of the water, make an extempore fire-grate
out of the boulders, snap off some dry spruce-twigs, and in a short
time the mouth of your kettle is belching forth boiling water. The
only sounds to be heard are the crackling of the burning twigs and the
song of your kettle. One member of the party spreads the cloth upon
the velvet moss, one makes the tea, one opens the tinned peaches, and
another goes into the wood with a dish to gather wild raspberries, to
add lusciousness to the pot of cream.

When the meal is over, you take to your boat again, and “swish, swish”
go the lines once more. A few more fish are gathered in. You take
another meal, and then fish on until you are satisfied with the day’s
sport. Satisfied! Was any angler ever satisfied? No! You decide to fish
on until darkness covers the face of the water.

At last a mist comes over the lake, the moon begins to show her face
above the hills, and you pull reluctantly to the side. The horse
looks at you, as much as to say, “I thought you fellows were going to
stay all night.” Your goods and chattels are packed up, the horse is
harnessed, and off you scamper for St. John’s and home.

The moonbeams streak the water, and you look back upon the lake with
a feeling akin to that with which you look from the deck of a steamer
upon the friends you are leaving behind.

As you wend your way home, the scenery, under the influence of the
moon, seems more bewitching than ever. The Northern Lights cast a halo
over the hills and waters and forests, and you wish that the ten miles’
drive were fifty.

“Glorious day’s sport, boys!” says one of the party, as we see the
tower on Signal Hill silhouetted against the dark blue sky. “Grand!
grand!” is the unanimous reply.



If you were to read some of the voyages of the intrepid explorers
of Queen Elizabeth’s day, you would be charmed by their accounts of
wonderful birds, marvellous beasts and fishes, which they met in that
part of the new Western world discovered by John Cabot and his West of
England crews: soles three yards long, huge sea-cows with long white
tusks, seals, bears, and monstrous whales.

Among all these animals and fishes, none is more interesting than the
hair-seal of the North Atlantic. The birth, habits, and migration of
the seal are just as marvellous as any other branch of natural history.
Centuries ago the seals could make their home near the coasts of
Newfoundland, for there were no white men to molest their “ancient,
solitary reign”; but during the last century they have fled before the
gaff of the hunters to the waters far to the north of Labrador.

In the North Atlantic are to be found about six varieties of seals,
the most valuable variety commercially being the harp-seal. The young
harps begin to put on fat from the moment of their birth, so that in
less than a month one of these baby seals will weigh from 25 to 40
pounds. They usually remain on the ice about twenty-five days before
taking to the water, during which time they are fed by their mothers,
who will sometimes travel ten miles in order to furnish their young
with food. One of the most mysterious things, however, is that, even if
the young are not fed by their mothers, they continue to put on fat. It
may be that the old seals select a sheet of ice containing animalculæ,
for the young are often observed to be sucking the ice in the absence
of their mothers.

The hoods, or bladder-nose seals, are also very abundant. They are
much older than the harps when caught, and always congregate to the
north-east of the latter species. The method of despatching the young
hoods is with the gaff, but the old hoods are usually killed with the
gun. The old dog-hood is a valiant fighter for the young. It sometimes
happens that eight or ten men are engaged endeavouring to kill the
old dog-hood with gaffs or clubs. When the bladder is filled, it will
resist any amount of beating on the head, and frequently the hood will
bite off the end of his assailant’s gaff.

With the advent of milder weather at the beginning of the year, great
ice-fields are to be seen in the bays of Newfoundland, and also many
miles out at sea. It is upon these “fields” that the seals bring forth
their young, about the middle of February. And what pretty little
children they are--such bright, pathetic eyes, lovely white coats, and
graceful movements! Their cry resembles that of a new-born babe, and
when a ship is in the midst of them at night, their childlike wailing
is one of the weirdest sounds imaginable.

The sealing fleet which goes out from St. John’s usually comprises
eighteen ships, and they leave port on the 10th or 12th of March.
From start to finish they have to contend with very heavy ice, and
frequently very cold and stormy weather. When the seals are sighted,
which is usually on the east coast of Newfoundland, according to the
direction in which the ice is driven by wind and current, the captain
sends his hunters in various directions over the ice-floe. Sometimes
the hunters will travel six or ten miles from the ship, but the
“lookout” never loses sight of them unless a fog falls and obscures
them from his view.

In the midst of thousands of these baby seals the hunters go forward
with their gaffs, dealing death on every hand. A slight stroke on the
nose is sufficient to despatch them, and in a short time the ice is
one mass of lifeless bodies. The hunter then takes his sharp knife and
“sculps” them, which is removing the pelt from the carcass. This pelt
contains the fur and about two inches of fat. The carcass is left on
the ice to be eaten by birds or fishes.

When the sculping is finished, the pelts are “laced” together, and
towed by a rope to what is known to the hunters as a “pan,” which is
marked by a flag of the ship to which the crew belong. When these are
heaped together under the various flags, the ship steams around and
takes them on board in the same manner that she would take on any cargo.

When the captain thinks that it is impossible to increase the catch,
or when he has sufficient on board, he steams back to St. John’s,
where the pelts are taken out to pass through certain processes before
becoming marketable. The fat is removed from the skin and rendered
into oil, which is very pure and white, and the skins are sent to all
parts of the world to be manufactured into cloaks, capes, and leather.
Sometimes a ship will return with as many as 40,000 pelts, and a good
“harvest” usually reaches a grand total of 350,000. Many years ago, in
the days of sailing-vessels, the catches were much greater, the largest
being in the neighbourhood of 600,000.

The Newfoundland seal-hunter is famous for his daring achievements. He
runs from pan to pan over the loose floating ice, and seems to be quite
unconscious of any impending peril. What a perilous pursuit it is,
too! The hunters never know when some terrible blizzard or blinding
snowstorm may suddenly come driving in from the north, or when a thick
fog may settle down and separate them from their ship. There are
incidents on record where crews have become separated during a fog or
blizzard, and have been driven on a sheet of floating ice, to perish in
the biting cold far out at sea.

Probably the most appalling disaster on record is that which befell the
ship _Greenland_ many years ago. Forty-five of the men were out upon
the ice killing the young seals one night, when a terrific blizzard
suddenly sprang up and cut off their retreat to the ship. When the
blizzard had spent its force, the poor hunters were found lifeless on
the great stretch of snow-covered ice. They were taken by loving hands
from the ice, wrapped in canvas, and placed on deck to be brought back
for interment at St. John’s, the city from which they had set out
only a few weeks before, with buoyant spirits and hopes of a “bumper”
voyage. It was one of the gloomiest days in the history of St. John’s
when the dead bodies of those daring hunters were lifted from the deck
and taken to their last resting-place in the presence of sorrowing



As Labrador adjoins the provinces of Quebec and Ungava, it is often
erroneously thought that the whole of it is under the jurisdiction
of the great Dominion of Canada, and the majority of boys will be
surprised to hear that the coast of this little-known country is a
dependency of Newfoundland. It is associated with the life of the
Eskimos, a people who dwell in “thrilling regions of thick-ribb’d ice,”
and is considered by the outside world as

    “A land forsaken and dead,
     Where the ghostly icebergs go.”

There is a great deal of tradition interwoven with the discovery of
Labrador. Some historians contend that as early as A.D. 1000 Europeans
had found their way to this bleak shore, and some are of the opinion
that the Icelanders and Greenlanders had set foot on the barren rocks
at a much earlier date. The true discoverer of Labrador, say other
historians, was John Cabot, of whose voyages we have given an account
in an earlier chapter.


The present inhabitants obtain a livelihood by fishing and hunting,
and are really a peaceful people. Strange as it may seem, the best
educated people in Labrador are the Eskimos, which is due solely to the
untiring efforts of the Moravian missionaries. And when the inhabitants
are brought into closer communication with the outer world by increased
steamer, mail, and telegraphic services, there will be a greater future
reserved for the country than has ever been thought possible by even
those who know the Eskimo well, and the conditions under which he
maintains his existence.

The life of the Eskimo boy is a very hard one, but in their own way
the children enjoy themselves, and their days are not without pleasure
and sunshine. The baby boys are carried in a bag on the backs of their
mothers until they are able to eat a slice of walrus, and then they are
put into a pair of trousers, which the mother makes from seal-skins.
Their homes are made of wood and mud, or snow if the winter is
unusually cold. They consist of one room, through the top of which is a
hole to carry away the smoke from the open fire.

Before the Eskimo boys are very old, they are taught to repair tents,
use an oar, cast a line, and handle a gun. In addition, they are taught
how to drive a team of dogs across snow and ice, for dog-sleds in that
far-off country take the place of trains, trams, and hansom-cabs.
These dogs, however, are very treacherous. In appearance they are
exactly like wolves, and are often as ferocious. Any strange animal is
at once put to death by them. Domestic animals and farmyard stock are
soon killed and devoured. At certain seasons of the year, too, they
will snarl and snap at their owners. Quite recently a family of three
were reported to have been killed outright by these savage brutes. It
is expected that when the deer have been trained to do the work of
these dogs, an effort will be made to exterminate the entire breed.
It is astonishing, however, the amount of work the Eskimo dogs will
accomplish. A good team will travel from six to ten miles an hour, and
cover a distance of sixty miles in the day without showing fatigue.
Even at the end of such a day’s work, the team find no difficulty in
despatching a fox or a wolf should one dare to cross their path.

In the month of May, when the sealing season is practically over,
the salmon-nets are prepared, and away go the families with their
belongings to the salmon areas along the well-known rivers. Salmon
are so abundant that hundreds are caught in one week. Great skill is
sometimes shown by the Eskimo boys in the manipulation of their nets,
for unless they were watched and handled cautiously they would be
torn to pieces or carried away entirely by the masses of ice that go
rumbling down the rivers at the approach of warmer weather.

In the springtime the boys accompany their fathers on sealing
expeditions. Off they go, jumping from ice-pan to ice-pan with their
gaff for killing their victims. The boy has a keen eye, and if an old
seal pops his head above water, a bullet goes through it in a moment.
One method of capturing the seals is to build a barricade of ice,
behind which the hunters hide. As the seals appear above water they are
shot, and then harpooned, before they have a chance to sink.

The man who is destined to bring about the salvation of these
people, spiritually, intellectually, and commercially, is Dr. W. T.
Grenfell. To record all that this great man has accomplished, with his
experiences on land and sea, would be to fill a book many times larger
than the one in which these few references to him and his work are now

Dr. Grenfell is descended from an old Devonshire stock. He was born on
the banks of the Dee, close to the Irish Sea, and he cannot remember
the time when he did not love the roar of the ocean, and longed for
romantic adventure in the far-off land towards which the billows
rolled. His youth was spent at Oxford, where he became a popular
figure in athletic circles. A surprising incident decided his future
for him. One evening during his medical course he went by chance
into the Tabernacle in East London, just at the time when Mr. Moody
was conducting evangelistic services in England. Here he received a
conviction that his own religious life was a humbug. He wrestled with
that conviction until it led him to decide that he would go to Labrador
as a missionary under the auspices of the Royal National Mission to
Deep-Sea Fishermen. In 1892 he took charge of the little steamer
_Alert_, and began his work among the people of Northern Newfoundland.
If you would like to know more of this self-denying man’s work, and to
read of his hairbreadth escapes from death, you should read his book
entitled “Vikings of To-day.”

Dr. Grenfell has made a study of the Eskimo dog, the animal that
has played such a part in the doctor’s missionary work. One of his
experiences runs thus:

“Modesty is a virtue of which the Eskimo dog is seldom guilty. I was
visiting one day a bedridden patient. As the outer door opened, a
fragrant scent as of a dinner preparing was wafted outward. Suddenly
an avalanche swept me off my legs, and a pack of dogs, whisking the
stew-pot off the fire, began to fight savagely over its contents, the
more so as each having burnt his nose in the boiling liquid attributed
his affliction to his neighbour. Meanwhile, the house filling with
steam and Eskimo imprecations, the latter rendered forcible by long
harpoon handles, made me almost sorry I had called.

“The ‘trail’ is usually over the frozen sea, the land being too
uneven. Good dogs will cover from 70 to 100 miles in a day. When
starting in the morning, the snow is covered with little icicles,
formed by the midday sun melting the frozen surface. As this is apt to
make the feet of the dogs bleed, they are shod with a bag of sealskin,
tied round the ankle. Three small holes are cut for the claws. A pup
shod for the first time holds up his paws in the air alternately, but
once he learns to appreciate the fact that shoes save his feet from
being cut, though he will always eat any ordinary piece of skin, such
as a _kavak_ or a skin boot, he rarely eats his own shoes. They do,
however, bite at and eat the harness, especially of the dog in front
of them. Mr. Young tells of a big dog which, though apparently always
hard at work, never seemed to get tired like the rest. It always
seemed to strain at its trace, and kept looking round, apparently for
the driver’s approval. His suspicions, however, were aroused, and one
day, cutting loose the trace, he fastened it by a single thread to the
_komatik_. Sure enough, the dog strained and worked as hard as ever,
but it never broke a single thread!

“Ploughing is a humdrum task which these dogs do not enjoy. The only
way it can be done is for one man to march solemnly in front dragging a
seal’s flipper, while another man has to shove and guide the plough.

“These dogs are fearless in retrieving birds by the seashore.

“When a flock passes, all the guns are discharged simultaneously, and
the ducks, which at times respond in showers, are nominally divided

“But now comes the excitement. As a rule a huge Atlantic surf, with
these north-east winds, breaks over the point, and the splendid pluck
and endurance of the dogs is taxed to the uttermost. Dashing into the
waves, I have seen them repeatedly hurled back, bruised and winded,
high on to the ledges of rock, only to be dragged off by the return
wave and once more pounded on to the rocks. To avoid this, the brave
beasts hold on with the energy of despair, and many times have I noted
their bleeding paws, and nails torn off in the unequal struggle. Yet
they would at once return to the charge, and, waiting their chance,
leap right over the breaking crest, and so get clear of the surf.
Once they seize a duck they never let it go, and I have often felt
sorely tempted even to jump in and give the brave creatures a hand
when it seemed impossible for them to keep up the struggle any longer.
Yet, after being lost to view, engulfed by a huge breaker, one would
soon see a duck appear, and after it a dog’s head, still true to its
hazardous duty. Sometimes, however, they are really lost.”

The Eskimo is not without some vague idea of a future state, as one
might expect when the religion of his progenitors is borne in mind.
He believes that death involves the separation of the spirit from his
body, and the spirit either soars to an unknown country in the sky,
or descends, he knows not where, into a subterranean resting-place.
The destiny of the soul is decided by the Eskimo’s manner of life and
death upon the earth. The Eskimos who die a violent death on the ice
or in the hunting-grounds are transported to the abode above. One
would naturally expect that every Eskimo coveted a death that would
insure his passage to the sky, but such is not the case. Those who go
below are considered to enjoy luxuries that are denied to those who go
above. Moreover, the inhabitants of the lower region are privileged
to communicate with their friends on earth, such communication being
impossible to the inhabitants of the other region.

The Eskimo also believes that the affairs of his earthly life are
ordered by an attendant spirit, who has power to destroy the labours of
his hands or crown them with success. This spirit is understood to be
extremely malignant, and only by sacrificial offerings is it possible
to propitiate him. Very frequently an idol of this malignant spirit is
carried by the Eskimo in his ammunition-bag if he wishes his hunting
expedition to be successful.

There is something very poetic, if crude, about their notions of the
sky and clouds. They believe that the sky is a hard substance forming
a gigantic arch above the earth, and that the clouds are in charge of
two old women, who spread them across the sky and then roll them up
again. When it thunders, the old women are conversing together, and the
lightning is supposed to be a lamp to light them on their way beneath
the arch of blue. The whistling wind is interpreted as the breath of
two large-headed spirits who stand one at each corner of the earth.
It is natural for ignorant people to associate superstition with the
magnificent displays of the Aurora Borealis.

These beautiful lights, say the Eskimos, are torches held in the hands
of spirits who come to seek the souls of those who have recently passed
away. By the aid of these torches the souls are led across the dark
abyss at the edge of the world to a celestial region where sorrow and
death never come, and where they no longer feel the pangs of hunger,
for food and water are abundant there.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unpaired
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

List of Illustrations: “Indian Burying-Place Near Exploits” was not
found in the source materials of the original book. The actual cover,
which was not included in those source materials, uses the illustration
facing page 30.

Page 6: The quotation attributed to John Guy contains many words
spelled differently than how they are spelled today. These and other
possibly archaic or dialect spellings have not been changed.

Page 57: The caption SEALS ON “PACK-ICE” was omitted in the original
book but added by Transcriber by copying it from the List of

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