The English in Newfoundland
Painting of Benjamin Lester's premises at
Trinity Harbour. Lester's
house can be seen in the centre behind the
• Beginning in the 18th century English men and boys from
the south west of England went regularly to Newfoundland on short term contracts
to work in the cod fishery. They were employed by English merchants who
bankrolled the entire operation. Some fishermen remained behind, thus
contributing to Newfoundland's early population. Where they settled was entirely
determined by the demands of the cod fishery.
Mansion House, Thames Street, Poole, Dorset. Benjamin
Lester's Poole residence. Lester made a
fortune from the
Newfoundland cod trade.
• Because Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire were the main English counties
from which fishermen were recruited, they supplied most immigrants to the
Island. Unlike the great surge in Irish immigration that had occurred between
1811 and 1815, the English influx was gradual. A combination of temporary and
permanent communities, together with the natural increase in the already-settled
population, caused the best fishing harbours in the so-called "Old English
Shore" on the south east of the Island gradually to fill up with English
• Newfoundland ended up as Canada's most English province. The 1991 Census
records that a staggering 82 % of the population claimed to have some English
ancestry, although most of the influx occurred long before Newfoundland had
officially-recorded immigration statistics. The province continues to honour St.
George, England's patron saint, by declaring a public holiday on April 23rd (St.
George's Day). This event passes by almost unnoticed in England.
For further details see Planters, Paupers and
Pioneers, Lucille's book
about Atlantic Canada.