Labrador is often overlooked when the history of Newfoundland is considered, even though Labrador has a significant native history and was also part of the experience of the Norse, later the Basques, the Bretons, the French, and more recently the British migratory and Newfoundland residential fishermen. The Norse and the Basques are dealt with elsewhere in this �reader�s guide� is often overlooked when the history of Newfoundland is considered, even though Labrador has a significant native history and was also part of the experience of the Norse, later the Basques, and more recently the British migratory and Newfoundland residential fishermen. The Norse and the Basques are dealt with elsewhere in this "reader's guide" (under "Discovery and Exploration" and "The Fishery and Fish Trade" respectively). Frederick Rowe devotes a chapter of A History of Newfoundland and Labrador (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1980) to Labrador. Until recently, one of the most useful cultural surveys of Labrador was David Zimmerly, Cain's Land Revisited: Cultural Change in Central Labrador, 1775-1972 (St. John's: Institute of Social and Economic Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1975). However, Zimmerly's chronology excluded several important early themes of Labrador history. A comprehensive though necessarily brief survey of "Human Settlement in Labrador" appears as the second chapter in The New Labrador Papers of Captain George Cartwright, edited and with an introduction by Marianne P. Stopp (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2008). A recent “research note” in Newfoundland & Labrador Studies provides a detailed look at the life and times of a man who served first George Cartwright and then the Slades as a servant for their respective operations on the Labrador coast in the 1780s and 1790s; see Ron Feniak and Kim Tilsed, “Research Note: John Tilsed (1747-1834): Servant of George Cartwright and the Slades, Planter of Shoe Cove, Gentleman of Dorset,” Newfoundland & Labrador Studies XXXIII: 2 (Fall 2018): 413-435.
An excellent modern survey of the history of primarily southeastern Labrador from an anthropological perspective is John Kennedy, People of the Bays and Headlands: Anthropological History and the Fate of Communities in the Unknown Labrador (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995). Kennedy's concern with "the long-term developmental history" of Labrador communities begins with the prehistory and early modern history of the region to 1763, then continues through to 1949. Kennedy then concentrates on community development in the post-Confederation period, with particular emphasis on the rural centralization and growing dependence of southeastern Labrador communities. Another approach to revealing the character and nature of the culture that has emerged in Labrador is presented in Lynne D. Fitzhugh, The Labradorians: Voices from the Land of Cain (St. Johns: Breakwater Press, 2000). Fitzhugh has selected stories and recollections of Labradorians past and present which appeared over the years in the magazine Them Days, and then arranged them into historical profiles of the major cultural components of Labrador society. It is an idiosyncratic book, in which the organization around Labradors several sub-regions might frustrate the researcher accustomed to more traditional chronological approaches. Students should also be alert to a number of historical inaccuracies that appear in the introductory pages of each section. Yet those who make the effort will find this a worthwhile exploration into history and character of Labrador culture.
Students should also understand that the limits of the Inuit presence in the region were not confined by the patterns of modern-day Labrador. In “Reconsidering Inuit presence in southern Labrador,” Études Inuit / Inuit Studies XXVI: 2 (2002), pp. 71-106, Marianne P. Stopp reconsiders the question of Inuit presence south of Hamilton Inlet and the conclusion that it was a short-term presence for the purpose of trading with Europeans. She supports the contention, presented by Martijn and Clermont, that Inuit did inhabit the southern region prior to the late eighteenth century. In The Forgotten Labrador: Kegashka to Blanc-Sablon (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006), Cleophas Belvin examines the history of the Quebec coast of the Labrador Peninsula, east of Anticosti, the region more familiarly known as the Lower North Shore. Belvin’s analysis is updated by William W. Fitzhugh in “The Inuit archaeology of the Quebec Lower North Shore,” Études inuit / Inuit studies XXXIX: 1 (2015), Special Issue, Les Inuit au Labrador méridional, pp. 37-62. He summarizes a decade of archaeological research which demonstrates evidence of year-round Inuit occupation of the Quebec Lower North Shore in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, even active Inuit collaboration with a European (probably Basque) whaling and fishing station. Finally, an article by Vincent Delmas reviews the archaeological data showing an indigenous presence on Basque sites from the Straits of Belle Isle to Quebec’s Saguenay River. The material data uncovered by archaeologists points to a wealth of material relationships between Basque, Inuit, Innu, Iroquoian and French people; see “Indigenous Traces on Basque Sites: Direct Contact or Later Reoccupation?,” Newfoundland and Labrador Studies. Special Issue: Papers on the Basques in Newfoundland and Labrador in the Seventeenth Century XXXIII: 1 (Spring 2018), pp. 20-62. All this suggests that a substantial literature is now available on the early modern history of Labrador. Not until the early 1700s did the Inuit occupation of the Lower North Shore end abruptly due to economic competition and hostilities with European and Indian groups that forced them to abandon the coast and retreat north to the core area of Inuit settlement on the central Labrador coast. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, students wishing to learn more about the history of Labrador will still need to search for essays and articles.
Yet until fairly recently, the history of Labrador has tended to disregard, or at best marginalize, the history of the people who were already there -- the Inuit and the Innu. While this has begun the change, our knowledge of the original inhabitants continued for the longest time to rely on European accounts and interpretations of those people. And while the work of archaeologists and anthropologists has now begun to correct this European perspective, the work of revision is still very much on-going. A couple of useful starting points are John C. Kennedy, Encounters: An Anthropological History of Southeastern Labrador (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015) and Lisa Rankin's broad and accessible survey, "Native Peoples from the Ice Age to the Extinction of the Beothuk (c. 9,000 Years Ago to AD 1829," in the Newfoundland Historical Association, A Short History of Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John's: Newfoundland Historical Society, 2008).
aboriginal relations and inter-actions with Europeans after 1500, the standard
interpretation has long been that European relations with the Innu were typified
more by peaceful interaction, while relations with the Inuit were typified much
more by suspicion, friction, and hostility. For example, Laurier Turgeon
maintains that the Basques who were drawn to the New World in the sixteenth
century by the cod fishery and whaling were participating in a mutually
beneficial fur trade with local Amerindians in the St. Lawrence River estuary by
the 1580s. He develops this interpretation in a number of essays: "Vers une
chronologie des occupations basques du Saint-Laurent du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle;
un retour à l'histoire," Recherches amérindiennes au Québec XXIV: 3
(1994), 3-15; "Français et Basques dans le golfe et l'estuaire du Saint-Laurent
au XVIe siècle: de la pêche à la traite," L'Euskarien XIV: 2 (été
1992), 45-58; "French Fishers, Fur Traders, and Amerindians during the Sixteenth
Century: History and Archaeology," William and Mary Quarterly, Third
Ser., LV: 4 (October 1998), 585-610; "Pêcheurs basques et indiens des côtes du
Saint-Laurent au XVIe siècle: perspectives de recherches," Études
canadiennes / Canadian Studies #13(1982), 9-14; and, co-authored with Evelyne
Picot-Bermond, "Pêcheurs basques et la traite de la fourrure dans le
Saint-Laurent au XVIe siècle," in Bruce Trigger, Toby Morantz, Louise Dechêne
(eds.), "Le Castor Fait Tout": Selected Papers of the Fifth North American
Fur Trade Conference, 1985 (Montreal: Lake St. Louis Historical Society,
1987), pp. 14-24. See also Selma Barkham, "A Note on the Strait of Belle Isle
during the period of Basque contact with Indians and Inuit," Études Inuit
Studies IV: 1-2 (1980), pp. 51-58. Greg Mitchell and Ihintza Marguirault
also suggest that a Basque-Inuit relationship can be detected in some of the
names that were used in the past century by Labrador Inuit; see “The Onamastics
of Inuit/Iberian Names in Southern Labrador in the Historic Past,”
Newfoundland and Labrador Studies. Special Issue: Papers on the Basques in
Newfoundland and Labrador in the Seventeenth Century XXXIII: 1 (Spring
2018), pp. 83-112
In contrast, friction was assumed to be the dominant theme in European relations with the Inuit, a view based in considerable measure on French complaints during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and projected back into the sixteenth century. Students who venture into the subject of Inuit-European relations would be wise to familiarize themselves first with the history -- both pre- and post-contact -- of the Labrador Inuit. One of the best places to start is the special issue of Études Inuit Studies, Vol. IV, Nos. 1-2 (1980) which is devoted entirely to the theme Les Inuit du Québec-Labrador méridional / The Inuit of Southern Québec-Labrador. This issue of the journal opens with an introductory overview of human population history of the region, written in both French and English; see Charles A. Martijn and Norman Clermont, "The land God alloted to Caine," pp. 5-18. The numerous maps depicting the region and its occupation history will be of particular value to students. This is followed by an article that focuses on the archaeological record of Paleo-Eskimo occupation by William W. Fitzhugh, "A review of Paleo-Eskimo culture history in Southern Québec-Labrador and Newfoundland," pp. 21-32. Initial Inuit-European contact is examined by Richard H. Jordan and Susan A. Kaplan, "An archaeological view of the Inuit / European contact period in Central Labrador," pp. 35-46; William C. Sturtevant, "The first Inuit depiction by Europeans," pp. 47-50; and Selma de L. Barkham, "A note on the Strait of Belle Isle during the period of Basque contact with Indians and Inuit," pp. 51-58. Two articles show how difficult it is to assume, with confidence, that European references to "eskimo" are truly references to Inuit; see José Mailhot, Jean-Paul Simard and Sylvie Vincent, "On est toujours l'Esquimau de quelqu'un" ["One is Always Someone Else's Eskimo"], pp. 59-76; and Charles A. Martijn, "The 'Esquimaux' in the 17th and 18th century cartography of the Gulf of St. Lawrence: A preliminary discussion," pp. 77-104. In fact, these authors argue convincingly, some of the native people to which the word is attached were almost certainly Mi'kmaq or Innu. Next, this special issue features several articles that look at historical and archaeological evidence for an Inuit presence in southern Labrador and the Gulf region during early modern French and British periods: Charles A. Martijn, "La présence inuit sur la Côte-Nord du Golfe St-Laurent -- l'époque historique," pp. 105-125; Charles A. Martijn and Norman Clermont, "Les structures de pierres et la mandibule du site EiBk-3, Basse-Côte-Nord, Québec," 127-134; and François Trudel, "Les relations entre les Français et les Inuit au Labrador méridional, 1660-1760," pp. 135-146. Three articles examine the characteristics of Inuit culture during this period: see Norman Clermont, "Les Inuit du Labrador méridional avant Cartwright," pp. 147-166; Louis-Jacques Dorais, "Les Inuit du Labrador méridional: données linguistiques," pp. 167-174; and Franklin Auger and Norman Clermont, "Les Inuit du Labrador méridional: une brêve analyse morphologique," pp. 175-182. Finally, this special issue of Études Inuit Studies wraps up with three separate commentaries that review the evidence and nature of Inuit occupation of the region: J. Garth Taylor, "The Inuit of southern Québec-Labrador: Reviewing the evidence," pp. 185-193; Charles A. Martijn, "Inuit of southern Québec-Labrador: A rejoinder to J. Garth Taylor," pp. 194-198; and Barnett Richling, "Images of the 'Heathen' in Northern Labrador," pp. 233-242. All in all, any student wishing to understand the prehistorical and historical context of Inuit relations with Europeans on the Labrador coast must take care to include this issue of Études Inuit Studies with their research.
Research on the theme has, of course, continued. Susan Kaplan provides an excellent overview of six centuries of European-Inuit relations in "European Goods and Socio-Economic Change in Early Labrador Inuit Society," in William W. Fitzhugh (ed.), Cultures in Contact: The Impact of European Contacts on Native American Cultural Institutions A.D. 1000-1800 (Washington & London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985), pp. 45-69. Kaplan also provides a succinct review of Inuit history in "Labrador Inuit Ingenuity and Resourcefulness: Adapting to a Complex Environmental, Social, and Spiritual Environment," in Andrea Procter, Lawrence Felt, and David C. Natcher (eds.), Settlement, Subsistence, and Change Among the Labrador Inuit: The Nunatsiavummiut Experience (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2012), pp. 15-42. Peter Pope has suggested that the movement of Inuit into southern Labrador by the end of the sixteenth century may well have motivated Europeans to avoid this coast through much of the seventeenth century; see "Bretons, Basques, and Inuit in Labrador and northern Newfoundland: The control of maritime resources in the 16th and 17th centuries," Études inuit / Inuit studies XXXIX: 1 (2015), Special Issue, Les Inuit au Labrador méridional, pp. 15-36. These interpretations have set the stage for a much more complex picture, one in which relations between the Inuit and the Basques were driven as much by Inuit priorities as by European ones, and may even at times have been mutually beneficial. An excellent overview of Basque relations with native people on the Labrador coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has recently been provided by Brad Loewen and Vincent Delmas in "The Basques in the Gulf of St Lawrence and Adjacent Shores," Canadian Journal of Archaeology XXXVI: 2 (2012), pp. 213-266. The Basques also appear to have developed a relationship with the Inuit based on a seal trade; see Javi Castro in “The Basque Seal Trade with Labrador in the Seventeenth Century,” Newfoundland and Labrador Studies. Special Issue: Papers on the Basques in Newfoundland and Labrador in the Seventeenth Century XXXIII: 1 (Spring 2018), pp. 63-82.
The French relationship with the Inuit during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries appears to have conformed more closely to the traditional view of unremitting hostility between Europeans and Inuit. From the mid-seventeenth century through until the Conquest of New France by the British in 1760, Labrador was claimed as part of the French domain in North America, with the result that the French invested a considerable amount of capital and effort to establish salmon, cod-fishing, sealing and fur trapping concessions on the coast. This in turn led to persistent interaction between Inuit and Europeans. A comprehensive examination of this interaction during the French period is provided by Lisa Rankin in "Trading and Raiding in Southern Labrador: French and Inuit Entanglement in the Eighteenth Century," in Scott Jamieson, Anne Pelta, Anne Thareau (eds.), Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, Occasional Papers No. 3: The French Presence in Newfoundland and Labrador: Past, Present, and Future (St. John's: Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2015), pp. 140-158. The seal fishery provides the particular focus for a master's dissertation by Janick Langlois; see Les pêches au loup-marin sur la côte du Labrador, depuis la fin du XVIIe siècle jusqu'à la fin du Régime Français (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, 2000). Amanda Crompton brings her skills as an archaeologist to bear on French activities and French interaction with the Inuit on the Labrador coast at the beginning of the eighteenth century in "The Many Habitations of Pierre Constantin: The French Presence in Southern Labrador in the Early Eighteenth Century," in John C. Kennedy (ed.), History and Renewal of Labrador's Inuit-Métis (Social & Economic Papers, No. 32; St. John's: ISER, 2014), pp. 94-119. Several DCB essays are also devoted to French concession holders in Labrador. Other publications which deal with the interactions of the French and Inuit during the eighteenth century include François Trudel's essay (mentioned above) in Études Inuit Studies as well as an English version of that essay, entitled "The Inuit of Southern Labrador and the Development of French Sedentary Fisheries (1700-1760)," previously published in Richard Preston (ed.), Canadian Ethnology Society: Papers from the 4th Congress, 1977 (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1978, pp. 99-121. See also Réginald Auger, Labrador Inuit and Europeans in the Strait of Belle Isle: From the Written Sources to the Archaeological Evidence (PhD thesis, University of Calgary, 1989), as well as Auger's article, "Late-18th and Early-19th-Century Inuit and Europeans in Southern Labrador," Arctic XLVI (1993): 27-34. A more recent exploration of European relations with the Inuit is provided by Greg Mitchell in "The Inuit of Southern Labrador and their Conflicts with Europeans, to 1767," in Peter E. Pope (ed.), with Shannon Lewis-Simpson, Exploring Atlantic Transitions: Archaeologies of Transience and Permanence in New Found Lands (Woodbridge, Suffolk and Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2013), pp. 320-330.
Not only is
our understanding of Inuit-European relations beginning to change, but so is our
understanding of who these people were. For the longest time, the Inuit who came
into contact with Europeans on the Labrador coast during and after the sixteenth
century were assumed to be little more than seasonal residents, peripheral to
the "core" Inuit settlement zones of central and northern Labrador. This is now
beginning to be displaced by a more complicated picture. A symposium held in
Makkovik and Hopedale in 2002 resulted in the publication of the proceedings,
edited by Hans Rollmann and released under the title Moravian Beginnings in
Labrador. Papers from a Symposium held in Makkovik and Hopedale as Newfoundland
and Labrador Studies, Occasional Papers No. 2 (St. John's: Memorial
University of Newfoundland, 2010). The collection begins with a paper titled
"Two Worlds of Eighteenth-Century Labrador Inuit" (pp. 23-36) in which John C.
Kennedy examines the early European contact with the Labrador Inuit, and in
which he maintains that, based on that contact, a distinction must be made
between the Inuit of the Labrador coast and those of the far north. Susan Kaplan
has revised this perception further, postulating three emergent Inuit
populations in Labrador subsequent to European contact in the sixteenth century.
Kaplan has influenced others, including Lisa Rankin, who summarizes the
revisions in her study of "Inuit Settlement on the Southern Frontier" in John C.
Kennedy (ed.), History and Renewal of Labrador's Inuit-Métis (Social &
Economic Papers, No. 32; St. John's: ISER, 2014), 38-61. Maura Hanrahan also
embraces Kaplan's model. In her examination of the cultural continuity of
contemporary Southern Inuit, Hanrahan briefly traces the history of the Southern
Inuit through an examination of the historical and archaeological records and
through Southern Inuit literary voices; see "'A People of Nation Caralit' and
their Southern Inuit Descendants: Exploring the Inuit Presence in the 'Unknown
Labrador'," in Herman J. Michell and Cathy H.G. Wheaton (eds.), Kitaskino:
Key Issues, Challenges and Visions for Northern Aboriginal Communities in Canada
(Vernon, BC: J. Charlton Publishing, 2014), pp. 1-22.
Curiously, the Dutch were also present on the northern Labrador coast during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, drawn there by opportunities to engage not only in the fisheries and in whaling there but also in the fur trade with local native people, notwithstanding the fierce reputation of the Inuit there; see Jan Kupp and Simon Hart, "The Dutch in the Strait of Davis and Labrador During the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," Man in the Northeast XI (1976): 1-20.
Then, in 1763, Labrador was formally transferred over from French to British control. This is examined in G.O. Rothney, "L'Annexation de la Côte du Labrador à Terre-Neuve en 1763," Revue d'histoire de l'amérique française XVII (1963): 213-243; together with subsequent territorial changes, this transfer is also given graphic treatment in Plate 7.5 of Gary McManus and Clifford Wood, Atlas of Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John's: Breakwater, 1991). British efforts to extend their fishing industry into the region after 1763, when the region came under British control, are the focus of R.P. Crowhurst, "The Labrador Question and the Society of Merchant Venturers, Bristol, 1763," Canadian Historical Review L: 4 (December 1969): 394-405 and G.O. Rothney, "The Case of Bayne and Brymer: An Incident in the Early History of Labrador," Canadian Historical Review XV(1934): 264-275. Some contemporary descriptions of Labrador during this period are available, including A.M. Lysaght (ed.), Joseph Banks in Newfoundland & Labrador, 1766; His Diary, Manuscripts and Collections (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1971) and Sidney Richardson (ed.), "Notes & Documents: Journal of William Richardson who visited Labrador in 1771," Canadian Historical Review XVI (1935): 54-61. But arguably the most detailed and fascinating memoir of all is George Cartwright's A Journal of Transactions and Events During a Residence of Nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador, 3 vols. (Newark, 1792; facsimile reprint, Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1980). That memoir has now been enriched considerably by the publication of The New Labrador Papers of Captain George Cartwright, edited and with an introduction by Marianne P. Stopp (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2008); these are papers held by the descendants of George Cartwright and discovered by Ingeborg Marshall in 1979 during the course of her research on the Beothuks. Cartwright's life unfolds in a brief essay by George Story in the DCB, V: 165-167, and in the third chapter of Stopp's New Labrador Papers. See also Stephen Hay's historical ethnography of face-to-face master-servant relations in eighteenth-century Labrador, The Creative Misunderstanding of George Cartwright: A Popular Culture in Cartwright's Labrador, 1770-1786 (MA thesis, Dalhousie University, 2008).
invested considerable time and money in Labrador, going bankrupt three times in
the process. Yet his experience, recorded in his journal, provides us with much
information, both general and specific, on the social and economic structure and
operation of late eighteenth-century frontier posts in southern Labrador, albeit
from a very English perspective. One of the sealing posts that Cartwright
managed during the 1770s, at Stage Cove, was occupied by approximately twenty to
thirty Anglo-Irish sealers, fishermen, fur trappers, and a few Inuit, and
documented by Cartwright in his journal. The site became the focus of
archaeological investigation, using the journal to guide the excavations; see
Kevin McAleese, The Archaeology of a Late 18th century Sealing Post in
Southern Labrador: George Cartwright's 'Stage Cove' (MA thesis, Memorial
University of Newfoundland, 1991).
The challenges that Cartwright and others faced were enormous, and the British authorities struggled to work out the most efficacious means of administering the region. Stopp briefly surveys these efforts in the second chapter of her New Labrador Papers, but more detailed accounts are given in a series of articles prepared by William Whiteley: "Governor Hugh Palliser and the Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery, 1764-1768," Canadian Historical Review L: 2(June 1969): 141-163; "Newfoundland, Quebec and the Administration of the Coast of Labrador, 1774-1783," Acadiensis VI: 1 (Autumn 1976): 92-112; and "Newfoundland, Quebec, and the Labrador Merchants, 1783-1809," The Newfoundland Quarterly LXXIII: 4 (December 1977): 17-26.
A key part of this process involved learning as much as possible about the newly acquired region. Time and again through the 1760s, the British government directed patrolling warships to carry out detailed surveys of the Labrador coasts. This began even before the Seven Years’ War came to an end. In 1760, they had sent the warship Antelope, Captain John Webb, to reconnoitre the Labrador coast. On board was Captain Lieutenant David Rogers of the Royal Artillery, who prepared a meticulous chart of Chateau Bay, or York Harbour as it became known to the British; see the research note by Marianne Stopp entitled “Chateau Bay, Labrador, and William Richardson’s 1769 Sketch of York Fort” in Newfoundland & Labrador Studies XXIX: 2 (Fall 2014): 244-271. Over the next few years, the Labrador coast was charted repeatedly – by Cook in 1763, by Joseph Gilbert in 1767, and again by Michael Lane in 1769.
In taking over the Labrador coast from the French in 1763, the British also inherited the legacy of French-Inuit friction on the Labrador coast. That legacy jeopardized British plans to develop the fishery on that coast. A number of measures were therefore taken. To provide a strong-point which might assert British control over the area, Gov. Hugh Palliser arranged to have a blockhouse constructed at Chateau Harbour in 1766. This measure is described in Stopp’s aforementioned research note, “Chateau Bay, Labrador, and William Richardson’s 1769 Sketch of York Fort.” Gov. Palliser also entered into negotiations with the Inuit, a process examined by Greg Mitchell in "The Palliser Friendship Treaty: The Esquimeaux-British Treaty of Southern Labrador (August 21, 1765)," Newfoundland Quarterly XCVIII: 1 (2005): 48-51. How the Inuit were perceived by Europeans at the time was unexpectedly revealed in a chart prepared by one of James Cook’s protégés; see Daphne Joynes, “North Atlantic Vision: The depiction of Inuit people on William Parker’s eighteenth-century chart of Newfoundland,” IMCoS [International Map Collector’s Society] Journal No. 159 (December 2019): 6-16.
Finally, Palliser also encouraged the Unitas Fratrum, more familiarly known as the Moravians, to establish a mission far to the north of the areas frequented by European fishermen, as is explained in William Whiteley, "The Establishment of the Moravian Mission in Labrador and British Policy, 1763-83," Canadian Historical Review XLV: 1 (March 1964): 29-50. The Moravian Brethren had already demonstrated their success at establishing good relations with the Inuit in Greenland, though their first attempt to extend their activities to Labrador in 1752 was unsuccessful; this is the focus of James K. Hiller's essay, "The Moravian Expedition to Labrador, 1752," The Newfoundland Quarterly LXV: 2 (November 1966): 19-22. A more comprehensive view of the early years of the Moravian mission to Labrador is provided by Hiller in his Masters dissertation, The Foundation and the Early Years of the Moravian Mission in Labrador, 1752-1805 (MA thesis, MUN, 1967) and in two articles drawn from that dissertation, "The Moravians in Labrador, 1771-1805," The Polar Record XV: 99 (1971): 839-854 and "Early Patrons of the Labrador Eskimos: The Moravian Mission in Labrador, 1764-1805," which appeared in Robert Paine (ed.), Patrons and Brokers in the East Arctic (St. John's: Institute of Social and Economic Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1971), pp. 74-97. Hiller also wrote the essays on Christian Drachart and Jens Haven, two Moravian missionaries, for the DCB, IV: 225 and 333-334.
In 2002 a symposium held in Makkovik and Hopedale marked the 250th anniversary of the initial (and unsuccessful) 1752 effort by the Moravians to establish a foothold in Labrador. The special issue (mentioned previously) of Newfoundland and Labrador Studies entitled Moravian Beginnings in Labrador and edited by Hans Rollmann begins with the aforementioned paper by John C. Kennedy on the "Two Worlds of Eighteenth-Century Labrador Inuit" (pp. 23-36). This is followed by a paper by James K. Hiller on "Eighteenth-Century Labrador: the European Perspective" (pp. 37-52). In this paper, Hiller focuses on French and English competition in Labrador and how this shaped subsequent Moravian initiatives. A paper by Hans Rollmann on "Johann Christian Erhardt and the First Moravian Exploration of Labrador in 1752" (pp. 53-68) analyses the first Moravian effort to establish a presence in Labrador and links that effort to earlier Moravian efforts in Greenland. The archaeological analysis of that 1752 attempt is presented by Henry Cary in "Hoffnungsthal: The Archaeology and Architecture of Labrador's First Moravian Mission, 1752" (pp. 69-86). This is followed by J. Garth Taylor's paper, "In the Wake of the Hope: Jens Haven's 1764 Reconnaissance Journey in Northern Newfoundland and Southern Labrador" (pp. 87-103); that voyage was key to the subsequent success of the Moravians in securing the land grants and administrative support that were so essential to their later efforts in Labrador. Hans Rollmann then offers an evaluation of "The Labrador Land Grants of 1769 and 1774" (pp. 104-131), stressing not only the interests of the British in allowing the land grants but also the objectives of the Moravians leadership. Linda Sabathy-Judd offers an assessment of the religious mission of the Moravians in "Winning Souls for Jesus: Moravians in Nain, Labrador, 1771-1781" (pp. 132-142). David A. Schattschneider explores the tensions between missionary ideals and the practical needs of mission in "Moravians Approach the Inuit: Theories and Realities" (pp. 143-151). Finally, Paul Peucker provides readers with a brief but fascinating history of the "Labrador Records at the Unity Archives in Herrnhut, Germany" (pp. 152-161).
Clearly the relationship between the Moravians and the Inuit remains an important focus of scholars today, as it has been for some time. Indeed, the impact of that relationship been the focus of several earlier works. H. Anthony Williamson develops a general approach in "The Moravian Mission and its impact on the Labrador Eskimo," Arctic Anthropology II: 2 (1964): 32-36, while J. Garth Taylor focuses on "Moravian Mission Influence on Labrador Inuit Subsistence: 1776-1830" in D.A. Muise (ed.), Approaches to Native History: Papers of a Conference Held at the National Museum of Man, October 1975 (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1977), pp. 16-29. In "Hopedale: Inuit Gateway to the South and Moravian Settlement," Newfoundland & Labrador Studies XXVIII: 2 (Fall 2013): 153-192, Hans Rollmann analyses "the tenuous nature of early Moravian settlement and trade in light of Inuit mobility and competitive European traders in southern Labrador." Carol Brice-Bennett made Inuit-Moravian interaction the focus of her Masters dissertation; see Two Opinions: Inuit and Moravian Missionaries in Labrador, 1804-1860 (MA thesis, MUN, 1981). Another dissertation, by David Scheffel, analyses The Demographic Consequences of European Contact With Labrador Inuit, 1800-1919 (MA thesis, MUN, 1981). Our best opportunity to examine the Inuit encounter with the Moravians in particular and Europeans in general is through the life of the Inuit woman Mikak; see the essay by William Whiteley in the DCB (IV: 536-537) and the two-part essay by J. Garth Taylor, "The Two Worlds of Mikak," in The Beaver 314: 3 (Winter 1983): 4-13 and 314: 4 (Spring 1984): 18-25. Mikak was more than just a witness to European-Inuit interaction; Amelia Fay suggests that she played an influential role in Inuit trade with the Europeans; see "Big Man, Big Woman, or Both? Examining the Coastal Trading System of the Eighteenth-Century Labrador Inuit," in John C. Kennedy (ed.), History and Renewal of Labrador's Inuit-Métis (Social & Economic Papers, No. 32; St. John's: ISER, 2014), pp. 75-93.
There has been increased interest in missionary efforts to convert the Inuit to Christianity, and the effect this had on Inuit culture. In "`Very Serious Reflections': Inuit Dreams about Salvation and Loss in Eighteenth-Century Labrador," Ethnohistory XXXVI: 2(Spring 1989): 148-169, Barnett Richling uses missionary accounts of Inuit dreams to interpret Inuit responses to their circumstances in the late eighteenth century and to the efforts to convert them to Christianity. The first Inuk to be baptized was Kingminguse in 1775. He was a young angakok (shaman) who renounced his traditional beliefs yet who had difficulty remaining committed to his new faith; see the essay on Kingminguse in DCB IV: 413. Tuglavina, who is featured in another DCB essay in Vol. IV: 740, was another Inuit leader and angakok, husband of Mikak. For a while he was a very successful middleman in trade between the Inuit who lived north of the Moravian missions and Europeans to the south. The Moravians also introduced literacy to the Inuit, though the degree to which this may have been something of a mixed blessing for Inuit culture is only now beginning to be explored; see Robin McGrath, "The History of Inuit Literacy in Labrador," The Newfoundland Quarterly LXXXVII: 1(Fall 1991/Winter 1992), pp. 35-40 and Hans J. Rollmann, "Christian Gottlob Barth and the Moravian Inuktitut Book Culture of Labrador," Newfoundland & Labrador Studies XXXII: 2 (Fall 2017): 397-428.
Moravian involvement in trade with the Inuit, and the effects of that trade on Inuit culture, has generated considerable literature. The fur trade is the focus of Barnett Richling, "Not By Seals Alone: the Moravians in the fur trade souls and skins," The Beaver LXVIII: 1 (February/March 1988): 29-35. In another essay, Richling shows how Moravian involvement in the fur trade caused their relationship with the Hudson's Bay Company to become one of competition, not of cooperation as was usually the case elsewhere between the Company and missionaries; see Richling's "Without Compromise: Hudson's Bay Company and Moravian Mission Trade Rivalry in Nineteenth Century Labrador," in Bruce Trigger, Toby Morantz, Louise Dechêne (eds.), "Le Castor Fait Tout": Selected Papers of the Fifth North American Fur Trade Conference, 1985 (Montreal: Lake St. Louis Historical Society, 1987), pp. 456-484. Drawing from her aforementioned MA dissertation, Carol Brice-Bennett examines not only the ethical dilemma faced by the Moravians because of the way they combined evangelism and trade but also the way in which Moravian merchant credit greatly contributed to the erosion of the Inuit way of life; see "Missionaries as Traders: Moravians and the Inuit, 1771-1860," in Rosemary E. Ommer (ed.), Merchant Credit and Labour Strategies in Historical Perspective, pp. 223-246. See also Hans Rollmann's article, "'So fond of the pleasure to shoot': The Sale of Firearms to Inuit on Labrador's North Coast in the Late Eighteenth Century," Newfoundland and Labrador Studies XXVI: 1 (Spring 2011): 5-24.
were not alone in their missionary efforts in Labrador. In "Travel and Trial: An
Examination of the Establishment of an Anglican Community in the First Church of
England Missions of Southern Labrador, 1848-1876," Newfoundland & Labrador
Studies XXX: 2 (Fall 2015), pp. 187-219, Rebecca Faye Ralph evaluates
mid-nineteenth century efforts by the Church of England to establish an
effective presence in Labrador. Davena Gwendolen Monk Davis examines later
efforts (particularly the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) by both
the Moravians and the Church of England in "The Dayspring from on High Hath
Visited Us": An Examination of the Missionary Endeavours of the Moravians and
the Anglican Church Missionary Society Among the Inuit in the Arctic Regions of
Canada and Labrador (PhD thesis, McGill University, 1987). The Methodists
also tried to establish themselves in Labrador, though these efforts were not
particularly successful according to Peter Laing; see Give Me A Moravian
Establishment: the Failure of Methodist Missionary Efforts in Central Labrador,
1824-1828 (MA Research Report, MUN, 2011).
These diverse religious efforts by the Anglicans, Methodists and other denominations were also an indication that significant European settlement in Labrador had begun to develop by the early nineteenth century, or roughly about a century after the resident population in Newfoundland began to show sustained growth. Yet the experiences of permanent European settlers, first in Newfoundland, then in Labrador, are quite similar, both in terms of the limiting factors and in terms of the role of merchants. The settlement history of Labrador is therefore of interest both in its own right and as the basis for comparisons with Newfoundland. In an important contribution to John Mannion (ed.), The Peopling of Newfoundland: Essays in Historical Geography (St. John's: Institute of Social and Economic Research, 1977), pp. 152-233, Patricia Thornton showed how Labrador settlement grew out of the commercial fisheries there, rather than despite those fisheries; see "The Demographic and Mercantile Bases of Initial Permanent Settlement in the Strait of Belle Isle." Subsequent work by Thornton builds on this pioneering study; see "Newfoundland's Frontier Demographic Experience: The World We Have Not Lost," Newfoundland Studies I: 2 (Fall 1985): 141-162 and "The Transition from the Migratory to the Resident Fishery in the Strait of Belle Isle," Acadiensis XIX: 2 (Spring 1990): 92-120 and also published with commentary and discussion in Rosemary E. Ommer (ed.), Merchant Credit and Labour Strategies in Historical Perspective, pp. 138-166.
David Anderson provides a study of Labrador settlement through the examination of one community, from its eighteenth century origins to the twentieth century, in "The development of settlement in southern Labrador with particular reference to Sandwich Bay," Bulletin of Canadian Studies VIII (Spring 1984): 23-49. A very different perspective is provided by Blair Temple in "'Their House is the Best I Have Seen on the Labrador': A Nineteenth-Century Jersey Dwelling at L'Anse au Coutard," in Lisa Rankin and Peter Ramsden (eds.), From the Arctic to the Avalon: Papers in Honour of Jim Tuck. Proceedings of the conference: "From the Arctic to the Avalon: Transforming the History of Northeastern North America", St. John's, Newfoundland, October 14-16 2004 (BAR [British Archaeological Reports] International Series 1507; Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd., 2006), pp. 43-52. The house in question, located just west of L'Anse au Clair on the Labrador Straits, was occupied from 1820s and 1830s into the 1890s, and it reveals much about coastal settlement. John C. Kennedy shows how changing gender balances contributed to "The Changing Significance of Labrador Settler Ethnicity," Canadian Ethnic Studies XX: 3 (1988): 42-62, a theme which is further explored in "The Story of William Phippard" by Patricia Way (pp. 135-154) and "'I, Old Lydia Campbell': A Labrador Woman of National Historic Significance" by Marianne P. Stopp (pp. 155-179), both in John C. Kennedy (ed.), History and Renewal of Labrador's Inuit-Métis (Social & Economic Papers, No. 32; St. John's: ISER, 2014).
There are, however, limits to just how much can be learned through archaeological investigation alone, and scholars today are beginning to emphasize the importance of integrating other sources of information into the mix. For example, in "The Inuit-Métis of Sandwich Bay: Oral Histories and Archaeology," in John C. Kennedy (ed.), History and Renewal of Labrador's Inuit-Métis (Social & Economic Papers, No. 32; St. John's: ISER, 2014), pp. 120-134, Laura Kelvin and Lisa Rankin demonstrate the challenge of distinguishing between Inuit, migratory fishermen, and Inuit-Métis during the nineteenth century using archaeological evidence alone: "Currently, identifying the ethnicity of the occupants of a nineteenth-century Labrador sod house based solely on archaeological information is, at best, difficult. Studying the history of the Inuit-Métis requires a holistic approach that uses archaeology, archival research, oral histories, and community knowledge. Only through such an approach can researchers better understand the ethnicity and identities of past peoples." 
An important contribution to the legal and administrative history of the Labrador coast in the early nineteenth century has been made by Nina Jane Goudie with Down North on the Labrador Circuit: The Court of Civil Jurisdiction 1826 to 1833 (St. John's: Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2005). Finally, Sean Cadigan and Jeffrey A. Hutchings suggest that the northward expansion of the Newfoundland cod fishery into Labrador waters was related to problems that developed in the inshore cod fishery of Newfoundland during the nineteenth century; see "Nineteenth-Century Expansion of the Newfoundland Fishery for Atlantic Cod: An Exploration of Underlying Causes," in Poul Holm, Tim D. Smith, David J. Starkey (eds.), The Exploited Seas: New Directions for Marine Environmental History (Research in Maritime History, No. 21; St. John's, NF: International Maritime Economic History Association, 2002), pp. 31-65.
Return to "Reader's Guide" Home Page
Suggestions for Additional Research on Newfoundland