An ethnohistorical study of fisher-merchant relationships in Burin, Newfoundland

Williams, Brian G. (1994) An ethnohistorical study of fisher-merchant relationships in Burin, Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This thesis attempts to describe the multiplex fisher- merchant relationships as they were experienced in the Burin, Newfoundland, area during the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. My aim is to demonstrate, using Burin as a basis for examination, that contemporary local opinion and scholarly generalizations, while often fundamentally correct, have oversimplified and ignored the diversity of actual practices that occurred in the conduct of fisher-merchant relationships around Newfoundland's coasts. The information on which this thesis is based is derived primarily from informant recollections, and is supplemented by private, public, and archival information sources. -- As a means of enabling the reader to envision the context in which this paper is set, the thesis first presents an overview of the history and geography of the Burin area. It is followed by descriptions from several writers of the general functioning of the credit system in Newfoundland during the study period. This background information is supplemented by informant descriptions of the inshore and banks fisheries, and the work routines that were required on shore. -- Biographies of two important fish merchant firms, typical of the Burin area, are then presented, to illuminate the analysis of fisher-merchant relationships that follows in the ensuing chapters. This analysis concentrates on three local and scholarly perspectives of the pre-Confederation period in Burin, history that appear inaccurate or simply in need of qualification: that merchants and fishers were socially quite distant groups, with few social bonds; that cash and cash transactions were non-existent or rare in this era; and that the merchant class in Newfoundland was supposedly doing little more than exploiting the fishing class, with no hint of concern for the welfare of those who caught,, landed, and processed the fish they traded in. -- A discussion of three different economic periods during the twentieth century closes the analytical section of this paper, and focuses on the similarities and disparities in the effects of these periods on the merchant and fisher classes.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/703
Item ID: 703
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 191-194
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Anthropology
Date: 1994
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Burin Peninsula--Burin
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Fishers--Newfoundland and Labrador--Burin; Merchants--Newfoundland and Labrador--Burin; Social classes--Newfoundland and Labrador--Burin

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