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West Coast - Forrest's List 1858

Bay St. George


NOTES FROM THE PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES
David Davis, Provincial Archivist

A Document from St. George's Bay, 1858

This document appeared in the Appendix to the Journal of the House of Assembly for 1858.
It was written by Henry H. Forrest a merchant of St. George's to the Governor Sir 
Alexander Bannerman in St. John's in reply to a dispatch from the Governor which was 
in response to Forrest's appeal for relief for the distressed people of St. George's.

St. George's in the 1850's was still a no-man's land on the French treaty shore 
Cape Ray to Point Riche), patrolled by warships of England and France. What little
civil administration it possessed it owed to the perseverance of the Newfoundland 
Government in extending its control over the area. With the uncertainty of ownership
and/or administration of St. George's, many people living  there wondered about 
their future. Especially concerned were merchants such as Forrest who could lose their 
property if France wanted English property cleared from the Treaty shore.

However, the main value of this document is the list of families living in St. George's
it contains. As with most lists of this kind it registers only the names of head of 
households   with the number of persons in that household. At the same time, it gives
a researcher information about people from the West Coast of Newfoundland for a period 
when very little is available from other sources.

Despite all these problems, the document ends with an endorsement of the  future of 
life in St. George's and the determination to stay there in spite of the hardships.

The document which follows has been edited to conserve space and remove extraneous 
material. Where the symbols (*****) occur across a page, this indicates that a paragraph 
or paragraphs have been deleted.


H. H. Forrest, St. George's to Sir Alexander Bannerman,
October 28, 1858

*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

To your Excellency's enquiry  for the names of the individuals or companies who would
discontinue their autumnal credits, I beg leave to name Messrs. Samuel McKay, 
Joseph Legrandais, John Thomas, Franncis Halbot, John Messervey and Sons, Ernest L. 
Romain, and Constant Garnier; besides many of the settlers, who, possessing the means
to engage and profitably to employ parties assured me that the dread of the loss 
of the spring and  summer fisheries, as threatened by French interference and 
disallowance, reluctantly compelled  them to suspend their autumnal credits. 
I beg also to  observe that the credit system here is dependent solely on the 
strict honesty of the poor fisherman, and on the certainty of the next ensuring 
autumn and winter. The French claim, therefore, of exclusive right to those  
fisheries by their recent notice, along oblige the traders here to adopt the 
alternative of no credit, as a matter of self protection, until the question 
of a mutual right of fishery be settled by the Government of England and France

*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*
 
Your Excellency desires, thirdly, the names of the  six hundred people  to whom 
allusion is made in my letter of 18th August last; a description of their 
localities an the distance their residences are from the sea. I  beg to refer
your Excellency to an appended  list underneath, of about four  hundred  and 
forty-four persons. Of  forty families and upwards swelling the list, I am 
assured, by a letter of this  date from the Rev. A. Belanger, that "many are 
already without any means of subsistence, and the others will very soon be 
short of food." Their localities generally range along the borders of the Bay 
of St.  George and along the borders of the Harbor, while their residences 
rarely are one hundred yards from the sea.

*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

Your Excellency graciously desires my opinion as  to the settlement of St. 
George's Bay, and whether, I think it is a settlement of importance to British  
fisherman, The settlement of  St. George's Bay I humbly conceive is important,  
from its rapidly encreasing population; - from  the great accumulation of 
personal property, and the greatly enhanced value of real estate within the 
last thirty years-from its vast resources in herring, and more partial resources
in salmon; and  from its proximity to the Gulph and Labrador cod-fishery. As a place 
of refuge for distressed shipping homeward bound from the neighboring shores 
of Canada and New Brunswick, it is of invaluable importance, as it has, within 
my experience, afforded shelter, and I may add, given life, to  many shipwrecked
seaman. The Bay of St. George, freed from French interference, and wholly 
British, from its commanding position in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, with governmental 
support to encourage it, would, in my humble estimation,  spring into new life, 
into wealth, and  finally into acknowledged importance.

The people of Bay St. George are all warmly attached to the place. The Idea of 
removal, it appears to me, is intolerable to them. Starvation alone, 
consequent on the loss  of their fisheries, would or  could reconcile them to an 
abandonment of their much cherished homes.

*	*	*	*	*		*	*	*


H.  H. FORREST
Bay St. George, Newfoundland
28th October,  1858

List of Destitute families referred to in Foregoing Document
N.B.-The following list has been as carefully made out and revised by my neighbors as circumstances admitted of. Five families, amounting to thirty-two individuals, have withdrawn from the settlement under fear of want for the winter; while several families, assisted by their neighbors, will have the means of passing the winter.
NameNumber in Family
John Lucas11
John Benoit 5
Olivier Benoit 4
Desire Alexandre11
Benjamin Young 7
Charles Duval 8
John M. Alexandre 6
Stephen Campbell 7
George Benoit, sr.12
George Benoit, jr. 6
Alexander Josseau 9
Constant Anceruin 7
Pierre Doucet 7
John Marsh 7
Patrice LeBlanc 4
Francis Camue 7
Peter LeBasque 8
Isadore Corrnier 8
William Barry 8
Paddy Clanse 1
Widow Ryan 4
Widow Bossel 5
Cossime LeBlanc 8
George Sheppard 9
Thomas LeBlanc 3
Charles Blanchard 3
Timothee Blanchard 8
Aimee LeBlanc 7
Joseph LeBlanc 5
Antoine LeBlanc 7 (about)
Joseph LeBlanc 0
Armand Legeune 3
Joseph LeBasque 6
Frank King 8
Alexis Legeune 6
Daniel Legeune 3
Joseph Legeune 3
Clestin Legeune 0
Jean Pillet 6
John LeBasque 8
Jacques Leguene4
Widow Plevut4
Frank Joseph3
Paul Joseph9
Louis Gabriel6
Widow Noel (inmates)3
Joseph Jeddone5
Widow R. March6
Eugene Raymond3
Stephen White4
Dominique White5
Auguste Reste4
Frank Jacquais5
Edward Gandon5
Vincent White5
Maxime White2
Philip Linehing, jr.2
James Harnar8
Philip Haynes9
William Haynes1
George Haynes6
Louis Benoit, sr.9
Louis Benoit, jr.4
Harry Young12
Daisley Josseau9 (about)
Frank Marsh3
Joseph Delaney6
Benjamin Perrior, jr.4
John Webb3
Paul Longuepee3
J. Young (Flewen)6
Joseph White2
Angus McStane1
Jaque Webb4
Henri Legeune4
Widow Morelle3
Isaac Young6
John Gillis8
Donald McIsaac6

© Laverne Cormier & Stephen Baker
Bay St. George District