Tag Archives: Labrador

Labrador Boundary Case Presentation

In March 1927, the Privy Council in London issued a decision that settled the dispute between Newfoundland and Canada over the boundary between Labrador and Quebec, bringing an end to over a hundred years of boundary movement and legal wrangling.

Join us as members of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador recreate the arguments in this historic case and a Privy Council of their peers

Retired judge and legal historian, John Joy, will act as moderator and introduce the event, describing the background of the case; Michael Crosbie Q.C. will present the Newfoundland case; and Ian Kelly Q.C. the case for Canada.

The Privy Council will be a group of law students, who will then provide their decision.

Whatever the outcome, John Joy will provide a summary of the actual 1927 Privy Council decision.

Audiences in St. John’s and Happy Valley-Goose Bay will have the opportunity to ask questions or make comments.

Place: Hampton Hall,  Marine Institute at Ridge Road.is through the main front door at the Marine Institute and to the left.
Time: 7:30 pm.
Date: October 25
Free parking is available in front and to the west of the building.

For more information contact:

John Joy, co-chair S. S. Daisy Legal History Committee
T: (709) 231-2292

Recommended Reading: The 1927 Privy Council Decision:   http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKPC/1927/1927_25.pdf




Explore some of the photographs of Forteau, Labrador

Forteau, Labrador; IGA 18-251

Dennison Cottage, built in Forteau in 1907, was a result of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell’s medical mission along the Quebec and Labrador coast and was the first ever Grenfell Mission Nursing Station to be established.

More than a hundred miles from the closest hospital, Dennison Cottage provided medical care in the form of emergency services and the delivery of children. Miss Florence Bailey was the first nurse at Dennison Cottage and served there for eighteen years. She was recruited from England and was renowned for her caring nature and expert abilities as a mid-wife. She also became quite skilled at driving dogsleds before leaving the management of the station to the nurses that would follow in her footsteps.

For many years, anyone requiring extensive medical care would be transported to the hospital in Battle Harbour by dog team or by boat, depending on the time of year. The services of the Forteau Nursing Station continued until the latter part of the 20th century, when a larger clinic offering more medical services was built in Forteau.

The Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest public cultural space is home to the International Grenfell Associations(IGA)  photograph collection which depict the activities of the IGA at St. Anthony, Forteau, and Rigolet and many other communities that were served by the IGA.   Take some time to explore some of the photographs of Forteau, Labrador that are part of the collection.

Forteau, Labrador Photographs:   http://gencat.eloquentsystems.com/therooms_permalink.html?key=123203

Click on the item that reads 49 records.

The Rooms collects and preserves materials relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador from government and private records to maps, photos and film, The Rooms collections cover centuries of materials that tell the story of our province and its history.

For more information on this and other photograph collections  contact THE ROOMS PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES DIVISION
Archives Reference Desk: 709-757-8088
Email: archives@therooms.ca


Newfoundland proposed to sell Labrador to Quebec.


 March 4, 1924

Labrador MapThe modern boundary argument  between Newfoundland and Labrador  over who rightfully owned Labrador (Quebec or Newfoundland) began in 1902, when the Newfoundland government granted a lumber company license to harvest trees on both sides of the Hamilton River (now called the Churchill River). The Quebec government considered the southern part of the river to be part of Quebec, and complained to Canada’s secretary of state. Newfoundland refused to cancel the license.

On March 4, 1924 Prime Minister Walter S. Monroe of Newfoundland proposed to sell Labrador to Quebec for $15 million provided that Newfoundland would retain rights to a three mile wide coastal zone for the use of fishermen.

Quebec’s Premier Taschereau declined Monroe’s offer to sell Newfoundland’s interests in Labrador. The Quebec leader saw no reason to pay for what he believed already rightfully belonged to his province and decided to take his chances with the Privy Council resolution to the dispute.

Deliberations began in October of 1926 with P.T. McGrath from Newfoundland making the case for the province.  In 1927 the Privy Council decided in Newfoundland’s favour, a verdict accepted by Canada.

In the course of our history Newfoundland has made at least four separate attempts to sell Labrador to Canada. The only reason that there was no deal was that Canada would not pay the price Newfoundland asked.

The first offer was made in 1922, during Richard Squires’s first term as prime minister. A year later, in 1923, William Warren, the newly elected Prime Minister of Newfoundland  made another approach to Canada.

Prime Minister, Walter S. Monroe, saw little potential in Labrador, he told the House of Assembly “this country (Newfoundland) will never be able to develop it.”

Sir Richard Squires and his colleagues turned again to Ottawa late in 1931, a formal offer to sell Labrador for $110 million was again rejected.

Imagine if Canada had accepted. No Churchill Falls, or Lower Churchill, the extensive mineral deposits in Western Labrador, Iron Ore, Nickle, Voisey’s Bay. Would Canada have wanted us in 1949 if we were not bringing these resources?

Recommended  Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives read MG 8, the papers of Sir. P.T. McGrath  which  consist of textual and cartographic records compiled by P.T. McGrath in preparing the Newfoundland Government’s arguments in the Labrador Boundary Dispute (1906-1926). The fonds is composed of correspondence, transcripts, memoranda, affidavits, research materials, maps and legal proceedings.


Have you got a case of “Grenfellitis”

Archival Moment

February 28, 1865

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives . IGA 13-62 Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives . IGA 13-62 Sir Wilfred Grenfell

In an interview with a Grenfell worker in St. Anthony in 1934 the worker was asked if she had found Labrador a healthful climate. She replied:

“Yes, BUT there is one thing that we all get, something incurable, which gets into your system and keeps returning , but it is never fatal. It is called “GRENFELLITIS” and its most dangerous symptoms is lasting enthusiasm for the North.”

There has been a number of episodes of “Grenfelltitis” that have overtaken  individuals over the past number of years and the only cure for “Grenfelltitis”   is a good exhibit to speak to the history of the work of Grenfell in our North.

Recommended Archival Collection: The records of the International Grenfell Association (IGA) were donated to the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL) by IGA representatives in June 1985. http://www.exhibits.therooms.ca/panl/exhibits/  

Recommended Reading: The Grenfell Obsession an anthology [edited by] Patricia O’Brien St. John’s, Nfld.  Creative Publishers, 1992.


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: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Reading:  Dictionary of Canadian Biography:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=7140

Recommended Website:  The History of the Northern Cod Fishery https://www.cdli.ca/cod/home1.htm


Did Labrador have the first Christmas tree In North America?

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 59-19; Four Inuit children during Christmas event, Nain.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 59-19; Four Inuit children during Christmas event, Nain, Labrador.


The tradition of the Christmas tree has been firmly established in Newfoundland and Labrador since at least the 1846 and may have been part of the culture long before that.

The first documented Christmas tree in Canada was the tree set up by Baron Friederick von Riedesel in 1781 in Sorel, Quebec. The Baron,  following the custom of his native Germany, cut down a balsam fir from the dense forest surrounding his home and decorated it with white candles.

The next recorded use of a Christmas tree  in what  is now Canada is debatable. Was it Labrador or Halifax?

In Halifax in 1846, William Pryor, a local merchant, cut down an evergreen and decorated it with glass ornaments imported from Germany to please his German wife.

Several  American  cities claim to have had the first Christmas tree in America. Bethlehem, PA appears to have had the first decorated Christmas tree in 1747 at the German Moravian Church settlement, however it was made by putting evergreen branches on a wooden pyramid! Windsor Locks, CT claims they have earliest date in 1777.

In Labrador a writer with the Scottish publication, Hogg’s Weekly Instructor in June 1847 reporting on the work of the Moravian Missionaries in Labrador wrote:

“One year some German friends, remembering the pleasure created in their own country with the illumination of Christmas trees sent several hundred little candles to Labrador. The missionaries distributed them to the children after fixing them in some of the small white radishes which they raise in their melancholy gardens.”

It is likely that the candles were placed in the radishes by the missionaries to mimic a Christmas tree.

Perhaps Labrador was the first?

The Moravian Missionaries have been firmly established in Labrador since 1771. It is likely that these missionaries carried with them their customs and traditions which would have included the decoration of the Christmas tree.

The article in Hogg’s Weekly Journal was printed in 1847 but clearly the writer is recalling an event that took place in the past.

Is it possible that the Christmas tree tradition in Labrador started with that first Christmas in 1771 – a full ten years before the claim by the town of Sorel, Quebec  (1781) and  six year before  Windsor Locks, CT (1777). ?

On the island portion of the province it is likely that the custom of using Christmas Trees was influenced by Queen Victoria. The young queen had a tree set up 1848, in accordance with the German Christmas custom of her German born husband, Prince Albert.  It was a tradition that  was quickly adopted by her subjects!

Recommended Exhibit: At The Rooms take some time to see a number of Christmas themed trees that have been prepared by staff and visiting students. Some of the trees that are featured include:

Recommended Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lhQ_hBT7lA  Tannenbaum is a Christmas carol of German origin. A Tannenbaum is a fir tree or Christmas tree.

“Symbolic but important recognition of Labrador”


December 6, 2001

Labrador on the map.

On December 6, 2001, an amendment to the Canadian Constitution officially approved a name change from the province of Newfoundland to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.   The process of the name change began in 1964 with the passage of the Labrador Act an act that permitted the province’s government to refer to itself as the Government of Newfoundland andLabrador.

In April 1999, the Newfoundland House of Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the Governor General of Canada to issue a proclamation amending the Constitution of Canada to change the name of the province to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Then, a year and a half later (October 2001), the Government of Canada introduced a resolution in the House of Commons to change the province’s official name. At the time,  the then Premier Roger Grimes stated,

“Labrador is an important and vital part of this province. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is firmly committed to ensuring official recognition of Labrador as an equal partner in this province, and a constitutional name change of our province will reiterate that commitment.”

Subsequently the province’s postal designator was changed from NF to NL.

John Cabot first used the term “new found isle” in 1497. The name Labrador is generally understood to have originated from the Portuguese word “lavrador” or  “small landholder”, and is probably attributable to João Fernades, a Portuguese explorer.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At The Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to read  MG 8.  The collection consists of textual and cartographic records compiled by P.T. McGrath in preparing the Newfoundland Government’s arguments in the Labrador Boundary Dispute (1906-1926). Some of the maps of the province of Quebec continue include Labrador.

Recommended Museum Visit:  At the Rooms Provincial Museum take some time to enjoy the exhibit: From this Place: Our Lives on Land and Sea: The Husky Energy Gallery – Level 4:  A rich tapestry of cultures exists in Newfoundland and Labrador: Strong ties to the land and the sea are the threads running throughout. Four Aboriginal Peoples – Innu, Inuit, Southern Inuit and Mi’kmaq – have lived in Labrador or on the island of Newfoundland for centuries. Europeans (livyers) – settled both places beginning in the early 1600s. The stories presented in this gallery highlight how the province’s peoples connected, and are connected. It is a story of how this place shaped its peoples and how different cultures have shaped and continue to shape this place.

Recommended Book:  A Short History of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Edited by Newfoundland Historical Society, Boulder Publications, 2008

The French fishermen in Labrador and Grenfell

Archival Moment

January 13, 1938

Newfoundland Postage stamp, 1941 issue, showing Wilfred Grenfell (1865-1940), a medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland Postage stamp, 1941 issue, showing Wilfred Grenfell (1865-1940), a medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador

The Reverend Umberto Mozzoni, (later Cardinal Mozzoni) secretary of the apostolic delegation to Canada  wrote to Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche  of St. John’s on 13 January 1938  with concerns about the “The necessity of providing to the spiritual assistance of the fishermen who come every year from France to the coast of Labrador”

Rome was seeking information “about the number of these fishermen and what is done to protect them in their faith.”

Archbishop Roche responded to the Apostolic Nuncio’s secretary that “With regard to the French fishermen, he does not know their number, as Labrador is in the jurisdiction of Harbour Grace Diocese.”  (Now known as the diocese of Grand Falls)

Archbishop Roche also suggested in his letter that it may be the priests of St. Pierre and Miquelon who are providing to the spiritual assistance of the fishermen who come every year from France to the coast of Labrador and suggests he contact the Prefect Apostolic of St. Pierre and Miquelon, for more information.

Officials in Rome, Mozzoni noted were aware of the existence and the work of the Grenfell Institute in Labrador and the fact that the French fishermen are assisted “From the social point of view” by the Grenfell Institute. (later the International Grenfell Association. IGA)

He laments however that “the Greenfield [sic: Grenfell] Institute, is, unhappily, of Protestant inspiration.”

The International Grenfell Association (IGA) was incorporated in Canada on January 10, 1914, under the Companies Act of 1899. Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the founder of IGA, came to Newfoundland to attend to the needs of fishermen in northern Newfoundland and on the coast of Labrador. The IGA maintained hospitals, nursing stations, medical steamers, boarding schools, and an orphanage.

Recommended Archival Collection: The records of the International Grenfell Association (IGA) were donated to the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL) by IGA representatives in June 1985. The IGA magic lantern slides form the most colourful pieces of the IGA fonds. These records are now available at the Rooms Provincial Archives. http://www.tcr.gov.nl.ca/panl/exhibits/

Recommended  Reading: Grenfell, Wilfred T. FORTY YEARS FOR LABRADOR. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1932, Boston: