LABRADOR AND THE COASTS OF NEWFOUNDLAND 251. A cold, damp land.—It is not far from the potato fields and dairy farms of Prince Edward Island to Newfoundland, across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But this short distance takes us into what may almost be called another world. (Fig. 14.) It is another world in industry, because an Arctic current brings cold water and icebergs to these shores, and makes the climate so cold that farming cannot be an important occupation. It is another world in govern ment, because Newfoundland and its depen dency, the coast strip of Labrador, are independent of Canada. Newfoundland is a colony of the British Empire; its governor is sent out from London. Like Canada, Newfoundland has a Parliament elected by the people.
This cold land has a rough, rocky, and treeless coast. The icy water makes the shore so cold that trees will not grow there. In winter ice freezes in the sea. The waves break it up; it is then called pack ice. Then it freezes together again in chunks as big as a table or even as big as a house.
When the wind blows from the land, the pack ice is swept out to sea. When the wind blows toward the shore, the ice comes back and fills the bays and piles up on the shore. The ice-cold Labrador current flows from Davis Strait down the coast to the southeastern tip of Newfoundland. In sum mer the current is dotted with icebergs that float past Labrador and Newfoundland, and melt where the cold Arctic current meets the warm waters of the Gulf Stream off the eastern coast of North America. Some of this current creeps in through the Strait of Belle Isle, so that the island of Anticosti in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, less than two hun dred miles north of Prince Edward Island, is too cold for farms, although it has a fertile soil. Newfoundland is not much better for farming, and has for this reason only one farmer to twenty fishermen.
252. People.—Of the few people who live in Newfoundland and Labrador, most are British, but there are still a few of the south ern Eskimos on the northern Labrador coast, and a few bands of Indians rove around the interior of that large, almost unexplored region that lies between Hudson Bay and the ocean. There is an Indian tribe in this region which no white man or English speaking Indian has ever seen. The stranger, before he can get to their tents, is always discovered in time for the Indians to run away and hide. The visitors who have examined their skin tents say that they cook fish by boiling them in buckets made of bark, in which water is heated by hot stones dropped into the buckets. They do not have any of the white men's utensils or goods.
253. is the chief work and produces the chief wealth of all these people. Summer on the coast of Labrador is a busy time. Thousands of fishermen from Newfoundland go north to camp for the summer, while catching and drying cod.
Only four thousand people live on this coast in the winter time, and the Newfound landers call them " Liveyeres." When the
pack ice fills their little harbors, and the biting blizzards blow, the little settlements on the bleak and rocky coast of Labrador must be desolate indeed. Only by dog-team and on foot can people travel in winter. These people were so few and so far apart that traders coming there for fish often ' imposed upon them by pay ing less than the fish were worth, so that sometimes the people had scarcely enough to eat. A brave physician named Wilfred Grenfell has spent many years on the Labrador coast, helping the fishermen to have schools and hospi tals and better ways to market their fish.
In the winter the men of Labrador and Newfound land catch seals that lie on the pack ice along the shores. But seals are not nearly so important as cod fish, which are the chief source of the wealth on this cold coast.
254. A French colony and European fishermen.—The codfishing in this region is so good that many fisher men sail across from Europe each year. French fisher men from Brest and the other ports of Brittany catch fish and dry them along the coast of Labrador.
France still owns the two little rocky islands, Miquelon and St.-Pierre, just south of Newfoundland. Before the Revolutionary War, France gave up all her Canadian colonies to England, but she was allowed to keep these two little islands. They are not fortified, and are only used by fishermen as a place for fitting out their vessels, and for salting and drying fish. At St.-Pierre this industry is so impor tant that at the beginning of the season the fishermen gather in a great procession and carry a dory or fishing boat into the church, that it may be blessed at the opening of the codfishing season. Fish! Fish! The whole town smells of fish. It seems like a town in France, with French goods in the shops, French wooden shoes on the feet of the people, and the French language on their tongues.
255. Agriculture.—Gardens are a rarity in Labrador, and people who try to raise vegetables often have to cover them at night with canvas to keep off the frost. The scanty crops grown by the few Newfoundland farmers are crops of the north: potatoes, turnips, oats, cabbages, and hay. The chief farm animals are sheep, which can live on grass, turnips, hay, and oats.
256. Unused Iron ore is mined near St. Johns, and sent across to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia to be smelted. Some of it comes to the United States.
The iron ore deposits of eastern New foundland are large enough to last British America for several hundred years. What may we expect from this fact? (2) Since the interior of Labrador is a plateau, its streams can be made to yield much water power as they fall down to the sea. Would you expect factory towns to grow on such a shore, or smelters for iron or other ores, or electric nitrate plants? (3) Those who like to fish in cold water and feel bracing cold breezes in July may go there for vacations far from the mainland heat.