Female Labour on Labrador.
[From The Twillingate Sun of December 5, 1885.]
“Oh men with mothers dear,
Oh men with sisters and wives,
It is not fish she ye gather in,
But human creatures lives.” - HOOD.
To the Editor of the EVENING MERCURY:
Black Head, Bay de Verde.
Your leading article of the 21st. about the employment of females on the Labrador, was both timely and important. Recent events on this shore furnish a most appalling comment on your remarks. The loss of two or three vessels has resulted in the death of 40 persons residing on this shore, and the narrow escape of hundreds of others, while scores have come home having lost all that they had, and whole families have been swept into eternity. This calamity has again revealed well-known facts. Here we have a vessel overcrowded, and about to leave for home, with only two or three punts, at the most, to land passengers, even if fire occurred at sea, or the ship being caught in an unfit condition.
We are hearing a lot of twaddle this fall from politicians about the ‘staple industry’ of the country, yet the lives of the fishermen, their wives and children, are held awfully cheap by the ship owners of this country. The sin is at their door. The money that is made by the vessel is blood money! Even the efforts that were put forth by Robert BOND, Esq., towards preventing the overloading of sealing steamers, were strangled by men who ought to be ashamed of themselves. Those heartless creatures find it easier to criticize the efforts of others, than lift their little finger towards putting an end to this trafficking in human flesh.
What I have said may seem harsh and rash, but when one sees whole families lost and ruined and nothing done to stop the mischief, it is time to speak out plainly. What is needed in this country is a Phinsoll who will plead with a vengeance, the cause of the poor creatures who are dependent on these ship owners for their bread and butter, and dare not object to the usage they are receiving. The country is overrun with political hucksters who care not a jot for the people so they get Government pap!
By publishing this letter, you will be fulfilling the wishes, not only of the writer, but also of many others, who have been called upon to part with dear friends and much property. The stories of hardships and endurance, that I have heard this week, are enough to stir up any man or men! It is high time that the Magistrate and Custom House Officers of this country should be compelled to enforce the law already in existence relating to this matter.