The cod trap inventor


June 5, 1834 

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division: F 51-10, Hauling a cod trap / Robert Edwards Holloway [1901: Holloway family fonds

On June 5, 1834 William Whiteley  best known in Newfoundland as the inventor of the cod trap was born.

Whiteley first thought of the idea in 1865 when he had occasion to hold a catch of fish in the water with a seine-net. During the winter the family was employed in making the large net required for the trap, and the following summer it was used with great success.

In 1911, just over 40 years after its invention, government inspectors recorded the use of 6,530 cod traps in Labrador. By that time too, the trap was being widely used around the coast of Newfoundland. The cod trap was so effective that Captain Whitely’s original design continued in use virtually without change for a full century.

The device did improve productivity overall and it changed the character of the cod fishery by allowing fishermen to spend more time ashore in the processing and curing and thus reduced the role of women in these activities.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  cod   in the search bar here:

Recommended Reading:  Dictionary of Canadian Biography:

Recommended Website:  The History of the Northern Cod Fishery