Company and the Supplying System in the Newfoundland Fishery, 1850 – 1884.


  1. Read the following article:

Macdonald, D. A. (1989). They Cannot Pay Us in Money: Newman and Company and the Supplying System in the Newfoundland Fishery, 1850 – 1884. Acadiensis, XIX(1), 142-155. Retrieved from

a. (12 marks) Write a 3-2-1 report on the article using the form provided on Coursespaces.

  1. Read the three following short articles in the textbook:

I.11 A Cod Cartel (1894), starting on p. 41
I.12 The Codfish Cull (1894), starting on p. 43
I.13 Abuses of the Truck System (1894), starting on p. 45

Together, these three articles provide an outline of the relationships between merchants and fisherfolk in Newfoundland in 1894.

In the assigned reading for Question 1, six different views of the relationship between Newfoundland merchants and fisherfolk were presented. They are summarized in the quotes below. All quotes are from the assigned article. The first five are from pages 142-143, and the last is from pages 155-156.

A – Lord Amulree – “Fishermen could not conduct the fishery from their own resources and […] each fisherman went to a merchant and obtained from him, on credit, supplies of equipment and food to enable him and his family to live. […] The merchants, by controlling the accounting of this system, were able to turn it to their profit, whereas the fishermen were denied independence.”
B – Cato Wadel – “[M]utual benefit – a supply of fish was exchanged for a share of the risks of the voyage.”
C – James Overton – “[H]aving fishermen provide […] their own means of production saved the merchants some of the costs of organizing and controlling production. […] [M]erchants retained control over the process by means of […] credit dealings which allowed the merchants to appropriate surplus value.”
D – Stephen Antler – “A combination of frontier conditions and a common-property resource led […] to […] small, homogeneous units of production and merchants to exploit them through unequal exchange.”
E – Rosemary Ommer – “[T]he fishery […] generated credit dealings from merchants’ attempts to establish property rights in a common resource and prevent the dissipation of economic rent. Credit […] gave merchants a stable, tied clientele and gave fishermen a buffer against the uncertainties of the industry.”
F – David A. McDonald – “[T]he merchant gave the [fishermen] more than time to pay – he gave the ability to sustain a commercial fishery. […] If the relationship between merchant and [fishermen] continued it was because each continued to feel a need for the other’s services. […]Supply was […] a system of investing capital – in this case circulating capital – in the fishing industry.”

a. (3 marks) Which of the six perspectives (A-F) best describes the relationship between Newfoundland merchants and fisherfolk in 1894, as shown in the textbook readings? Pick ONE and briefly explain your reasoning.

Most relevant perspective (A,B,C,D,E or F): __


b. (6 marks) Find three specific quotes that support your view, in the textbook readings (it’s probably easiest to pick one from each article). Provide the relevant quote, and in your own words, briefly explain how it supports your answer to part a. Since you are asked to take all these quotes from the textbook, you can just list the page number for the quotes instead of using a full APA citation. (e.g. “WILL YOU VOTE FOR GOODRIDGE, GRIEVE AND MONROE?” (p. 43)).

Quote 1:


Quote 2:


Quote 3:


  1. (4 marks) [True/False and Why] In the 1600s, Newfoundland’s cod fisherfolk were paid a fixed monthly salary, plus a bonus if they agreed to stay between fishing seasons and work on one of the many farms on the Newfoundland coast.

True or False? __


  1. This question will give you practice in basic research.

The reading in question 1 pointed out that Newfoundland’s cod industry competed with Norway’s cod industry. Let’s investigate that by running searches on two databases that you will find useful for this course: the British Colonist, and Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

The British Colonist is a searchable archive of the Colonist newspaper from 1858 to the 1970s.
Peel’s Prairie Provinces is a searchable archive of (among other things) historical newspapers from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Neither of these areas – British Columbia and the prairie provinces – were important consumers of Newfoundland cod products, but in this case that means our search results will be manageable.

Please follow these steps:

i. Go to the British Colonist web site,
ii. In the main search bar, type “Newfoundland cod” (with quotes). Click on ‘Sort by date’, then hit enter to begin the search. You should get a bit over 200 results. Skim through them, making a note of dates and the bits of text that are presented beneath each search result. You may wish to keep this window open.
iii. Repeat step ii., but search for “Norwegian cod” (with quotes). This time, there should be about 140 results.
iv. Go to the Peel’s Prairie Provinces newspaper search page:
v. In the main search bar, type “Newfoundland cod” (with quotes), then click ‘Search’ to begin the search. You should get 5 results. On the right of the search results page, click on ‘Date (asc)’ to sort the results by increasing date. Usefully, Peel’s also automatically tells you how many results were found in each half-decade. Skim through the results, perhaps clicking on a few that look interesting. You may wish to keep this window open.
vi. Repeat step v., but search for “Norwegian cod” (with quotes). This time, there should be about 130 results.

Based on your search results, answer the following questions:

a. (1 mark) According to your search results, in what specific cod product did Norway and Newfoundland compete?

Cod Product: ____________________

b. (2 marks) The reading in question 1 suggest that Norwegian competition with Newfoundland became more intense in the late 1870s, and in particular after 1876. According to your Colonist search results, when did Norway’s product replace the Newfoundland product (at least in newspaper mentions)? We’ll split this into two dates: the year when Newfoundland’s product (from part a.) stopped being mentioned in the Colonist, and the year when Norway’s product started being mentioned.

Year when Newfoundland product stopped being mentioned: _

Year when Norwegian product started being mentioned: _

c. (1 mark) The results from Peel’s unfortunately start after the 1870s, but we can still learn from them. According to your search results from Peel’s, in what 5-year period were mentions of “Norwegian cod” the highest? (Hint: Look at the ‘Years of publication’ box to the right of the search results.)

Five-year period with most “Norwegian cod” mentions: ____

d. (1 mark) Explore the “Norwegian cod” Peel search results for the five-year period from part c., by reading titles, clicking on a few of the articles, inspecting thumbnails, etc. What was the main reason for the high number of mentions in this time period?

Reason for high mentions:

e. (2 marks) From your work so far, it may be tempting to think that just one or two companies were responsible for the observed ‘competition’ in newspaper mentions. Find and present evidence that consumers did differentiate between the Newfoundland and Norwegian product, and it wasn’t just a specific brand effect. You may find it helpful to focus on the last few hits for “Norwegian cod” in both the Colonist (1930s) and Peel’s (1940s) searches. (Hint: in 2019, even ‘no-name’ brands will advertise their olive oil as being from Italy, if they can truthfully do so. Why?)

Evidence: (An APA citation and a brief description – e.g. “An article about Norway’s fish fashion industry” is enough)

Why this evidence is relevant:

f. (2 marks) As we’ll see in class, 1895 was a turning-point for Newfoundland’s cod fisheries. A bank crash in December of 1894 forced a sudden change in how Newfoundland’s fishery conducted business, causing some fish exporters to close and leaving many of the rest desperate for business. Find and present evidence of this change in your Colonist search results for “Newfoundland cod”. (There should be a pretty obvious shift in the nature of the newspaper mentions before and after 1895.)

Evidence (describing the nature of the shift is enough – e.g. “In 1894 the newspaper went from talking about Newfoundland cod perfume, the last mention of which had been in 1859, to talking about Newfoundland cod cakes.” :

Why this evidence is relevant:

Instructions, tips and tricks for answering the assignment questions

Question 1:

A few guidelines and tips for submitting 3-2-1 reports in this course:

• At least 50% (and ideally, almost 100%) of the text in each entry needs to be in your own words, not quoted. If you find yourself counting words to see whether you qualify, then you probably have too much quoted material. Answers with too much quoted material will be given a mark of zero.
• Why this rule? Because it’s too easy to quote appropriate material without actually understanding any of it (say, by using your knowledge of English essay writing guidelines to quote the topic sentences that are given the most emphasis). I want to make sure that, as part of this course, you gain practical experience in reading and ‘digesting’ peer-reviewed journal articles, and in filling in gaps you’ve detected in your knowledge of a topic.
• Any material you do quote needs to be cited in APA format. There’s a link on the ECON 321 Coursespaces page to UVic’s APA guide. If that’s not enough, you can also ask a librarian at McPherson library for help, or Google ‘How to cite X in APA’, where X is the type of material you’re quoting (interview, journal article, etc.).
• Why this rule about citing things? Partly because credit should be given for someone else’s words and work, and partly because proper citations are very useful for people who read your work. They allow your readers to track down your sources, which allows them to check your facts and reasoning, and may lead to further sources. Much of the material in this course was found by following citations which led to more citations which led to… etc.
• The ‘three main points’ part of the report can be a bit subjective, but as a general rule, if your points don’t include what the authors of the paper think is the main point of the paper, you should probably think about re-writing your answer and/or re-reading the paper. This is especially true if you’re not sure what the authors think the main point of the paper is.
• The point of the ‘two things you didn’t understand, and how you fixed that’ section is to get you in the habit of fixing gaps in your knowledge. If you come across an unfamiliar word or concept in an article you’re reading, don’t just skip it – do enough research so that you DO understand it. This could be as simple as finding the word in a dictionary, or searching the web for information on an event. To make sure that you actually DO understand that word or concept, I ask you to put what you find in your research in your own words, instead of just copy-pasting the first explanation you come across.
• For the ‘main economic point’ of the article, I want you to think in terms of resource allocation, scarcity, tradeoffs, opportunity costs, etc. If your ‘main economic point’ has the word ‘economic’ or ‘economy’ in it, then you probably haven’t gone far enough and are unlikely to get full (or any) marks. If someone asks you, ‘What’s happiness?’ and you answer with, ‘It’s when you’re happy,’ that’s not a very satisfying answer. Similarly, if someone asks ‘What’s the economic point of this paper on the cod fishery?’, if you answer, ‘Cod was important for the development of Newfoundland’s economy’, that’s not very informative. The point of this question is to get you in the habit of thinking like an economist: what’s the scarce resource? What are the needs and wants that this resource can be used to satisfy? How was the resource used? Why that way, instead of all the other ways it could have been used? Those are the kinds of questions your answer should be a reply to.
• Depending on the paper, the main economic point may be different – sometimes, very different – than what the authors of the article thought was the main point of the article. Not all the articles we read will be written by economists, and even among those that are, there may be papers where the basic economics aren’t the main point (for example, consider an econometric paper where the authors are showing off a new econometric technique by applying it to historical data – they’d say the main point is the novel mathematical technique, but as students of economic history we’d be more interested in the results of the analysis, and what it says about the economic history of the period under consideration).

Question 2: No additional instructions.

Question 3: How to answer True/False and Why Questions

We’ll be seeing a lot of them in this course, especially on the midterm and final, so here’s what’s expected.

Each T/F and Why question is worth 4 marks. Only ONE of those marks is for the ‘true’ or ‘false’; the rest are for the ‘why’. You will receive no marks if your explanation just repeats what is stated in the question, and you will only receive marks for answers that make use of ECON 321 material. It’s okay for your explanations to be very short – please try to keep them within the space provided.

What this means:

If the question is ‘T/F: A pie is the same thing as a cake.’, then you will NOT get marks (except the 1 mark for the T/F) for answering, ‘F. A pie is NOT the same thing as a cake.’. For full marks, you need to provide information that is not in the question and shows you understand the concepts involved. For example, ‘F. Unlike a cake, a pie must have a crust and a filling.’.

“You will only receive marks for answers that make use of ECON 321 material.” Since this happens every year, in every course with written answers, I felt I needed to point it out. You are being graded on your understanding and knowledge of ECON 321 material. If you answer a question without using any specific ECON 321 examples, even if your answer is correct, I can’t give you full marks for it, because you did not demonstrate an understanding of and familiarity with the course material. Material may be taken from lectures, assignment readings or required readings.

Example: “T/F Chinese immigrants to Victoria faced no restrictions on the types of jobs they could take.” If you answer, “F. There were many jobs only ‘white’ people could take.”, I can only give you two marks. One for T/F, and one because the explanation given is one covered in 321, but very vague. For full marks, you should give a more specific answer along the lines of, ‘F. Chinese immigrants were not allowed to vote. If you couldn’t vote, you couldn’t work as a prescribing doctor or lawyer.’ (This is not the only right answer in this case, but it is AN answer that would get full marks.)

If the question contains more than one false statement, you must point out all false statements for full marks. e.g. If the question is “T/F and Why: Pigs have wings and live in the clouds,” for full marks you must point out both that pigs don’t have wings, and that they don’t live in clouds.

If a statement is true, you should explain WHY it’s true, or in what way it’s true. For example, suppose the question is ‘T/F and Why: Most cookies are sweet.’ You could answer, ‘T. Most cookies have cane sugar as a major ingredient, and cane sugar is sweet. Therefore, most cookies are sweet.’

Sample Solution