The Parliament of the North: The Fishermen's Protective Union in convention, 1921 and 1923

Joseph Roberts Smallwood

Edited with an Introduction by Melvin Baker and a Prefatory Note by Edward Roberts

"You are right in saying that the Convention this year (or, more properly, last year) was a great success. There was a great crowd there, and I enjoyed it immensely. Your father made a wonderful speech there, and it was so eloquent that I was actually forced to cry! Can you imagine me crying? It was a wonderful speech, tho really. I had never heard anything like it, altho I listened in New York to some of America's finest orators. W.F. called on me twice to speak about Nationalization, my pet subject....There were over a hundred delegates at Port Union, and the Northern capital was a brilliant place for the week." [J.R. Smallwood to Camilla Coaker 9 March 1922, CNS Archives, Coll-9]

(A version of this article was published in the Christmas 2001 issue of the Newfoundland Quarterly)


Established on 3 November 1908 by William Ford Coaker, (1) the Fishermen's Protective Union (2) convened annual meetings of delegates from its district councils to discuss issues of common concern and to give union leaders direction on policy for the forthcoming year. Until 1918, the convention was held in a number of different locations: Change Islands (1909); Catalina (1910); Greenspond (1911); Bonavista (1912); St. John's (1913); Catalina (1914); St. John's (1915); and Catalina (1916 and 1917). In 1918, the convention was first held in Port Union, a new, planned community the union commenced building in 1916 in Catalina harbor to be the commercial headquarters of the Fishermen's Union Trading Company and its subsidiary companies.

St. John's journalist, Joseph Roberts Smallwood, (3) was an enthusiastic supporter of the FPU and in 1921 was an assistant editor for the Evening Advocate. In August 1921, Smallwood made his first visit to Port Union and wrote a glowing review of the "soul of the Fishermen's Protective Union" where the "hopes and aspirations of the fishermen of the North take concrete form and lay a foundation upon which will yet be built a structure which unionists the world over might envy." Writing from Coaker's office on the fourth floor of the Trading Company's offices at Port Union, he marvelled at being "actually in the sacred spot which of all places in Newfoundland crystalizes unionism and cooperation, and stands as eloquent testimony of the contention that men united can do almost anything, and certainly what men divided cannot do." Smallwood provided a general description of the town, of work on the piers, and of Coaker himself. "I look through the window," he observed, and "there upon the wharf my eye falls upon the man who has by his vision and imagination, his peerless organizing genius, his indomitable courage, and matchless energy made it all possible. I see him busier than any man on the waterfront... I see him directing, supervising, helping, giving a hand - where needed - all quite without hesitation, and with an evident zest and keen enjoyment... The man never seems to tire. He must have a stupendous reserve. He is out of bed and on the wharf and in the store at six in the morning, is here all day, and I have seen him here each night so far this week when I left, late in the night, to retire." (4)

His next visit to Port Union was to attend the 13th Convention of the FPU which opened on 2 December 2 1921. Prior to the first session of the Convention, shareholders' meetings were held for the various Union-owned companies and Coaker called upon Smallwood to address the first of these meetings on nationalization which Coaker and Smallwood defined as meaning greater government regulation of exporting and marketing codfish. For Smallwood, nationalization meant taking a "national" perspective in solving the problems of the fishery instead of the long, entrenched individualism typical of the St. John's business community.

Smallwood was at this time confident enough to offer Coaker private advice on the future direction of the FPU, which he believed Coaker was not giving sufficient attention. "I think one of the drawbacks on you," he wrote Coaker on 5 November 1921, "is the fact that you are tied down to the U.T.C (Union Trading Company), and the other companies. Can't you get some big man capable of taking care of the companies, and you yourself launch out? History produces a man like you every now and then; history judges that man not so much by his actual achievements as by the extent to which he went in exploiting his opportunities. You are in the rather enviable position of having had thrust into your grasp opportunities for far-reaching good which no Newfoundlander before you possessed or dreamed of possessing. Make no mistake - Newfoundland history will judge you kindly as it is... If you fail Newfoundland, then she is indeed unfortunate and in sad truth the Cinderella of the Empire. There is but one Coaker, and he has but one lifetime." (5)

In the spring of 1922 Smallwood returned to New York and, except for a brief visit later that year to raise local capital for an American film company interested in producing a film in Newfoundland, he remained there until late 1923, mainly working as a journalist. In late 1923, he hurriedly returned to Newfoundland from New York to attend the annual convention of the FPU, the 15th anniversary of the Union's founding in 1908. The Advocate reported that Smallwood had been commissioned by a "prominent New York labor newspaper to write descriptive articles about the picturesque gatherings of the toilers of the sea, and will also write a number of special magazine articles about the union and other Newfoundland topics." Smallwood, a honorary member of the FPU, brought greetings to the Convention from Eugene Debs, leader of the Socialist Party of America, and from Frank Hodges, secretary of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain whom Smallwood had met in the United States. (6) Following the 1923 convention, Smallwood returned to New York where he stayed until January 1925 when he came back to Newfoundland to reorganize and revive the labour union associated with the pulp and paper mill at Grand Falls. Except for a visit in late 1926 and early 1927 to England, Smallwood spent the remainder of his life in Newfoundland in a variety of private and public careers.

Prefatory Note

These three short pieces, written by a very young Joey Smallwood and published in the FPU's own newspaper, are fun to read. They also strike a familiar note: the vivid images, forceful cadence and colourful language could just as easily have been written by the much older Smallwood 40 or 50 years later. But they are more noteworthy for their revelations about their author than what they say about their subject.

The FPU was very much a made-in-Newfoundland organization: I'm not aware of any parallel to it in any other country. It was very much the product of its time, the first two decades of the 20th century, and its place, the north-east coast of Newfoundland. It was also unmistakably the creation of one man - William Coaker. He was at one and the same time its inner strength and its fatal weakness. His utopian vision inspired and shaped the Union, and his vibrant personality and his astonishing energy drove it. His flawed decisions doomed it.

A note of unreality pervades the three articles. Mr. Smallwood speaks in glowing terms of the "parliament of the North", and lavishes extravagant praise upon the FPU and all its works. But the absence of any reference to its accomplishments - and to its failures - is striking. By 1923, the FPU was far more than a debating society, or even the creator of Port Union and a number of quasi-commercial operations. It was a group of men who had revolutionized politics in their own "country", to use Mr. Smallwood's word. The Bonavista Platform, the solid phalanx of MHA's elected in the 1913 General Election, and FPU's participation in the war-time Coalition and in the Squires Administration all took place in the decade before these articles were written. The famed Coaker Regulations - the bold revolutionary plan that exemplified both the Union's greatest triumph and its greatest failure - were part of its legacy too. It's strange that the young Joe Smallwood made no reference to any of them in his paean of praise to Sir William, or in his fervent advocacy of nationalization (to give the word the emphasis he did) of the fishery. Granted, most of those who read The Evening Advocate would be aware of this, but the silence is still remarkable.

What does come through Mr. Smallwood's enthusiastic prose are uncanny precursors of Smallwood-the-politician. There is the hero worship - and there is no other word for his feeling for Coaker. One could be forgiven for wondering whether the feet of such a paragon ever touched the earth. And one can only marvel at Smallwood's extravagant language and one-sided conclusions. He is mesmerized by oratory, and allows the rhetoric of his own words to carry him well beyond the reality of the events he describes. There's much in these three brief essays that bespeaks the man who made himself the voice of Confederation in 1946, and the Premier of the new Province three years later.

I've long believed that one cannot understand Newfoundland during the last 100 years or so without understanding Smallwood, and that one cannot understand Smallwood without understanding Coaker. The strongest and most pervasive link between them is the north-east coast. The communities between Bay de Verde and St. Anthony were the heart and the soul of Coakerism and the Union. They were the heart and soul, too, of the Confederate movement and the Liberal Party which grew from it. (Due acknowledgment must be paid to the strong support given both by the people of the southwest and west coasts, too, of course.) Smallwood's deification of the North offers a revealing insight into this relationship.

One final comment. Coaker was an enlightened and forward-thinking man, in the terms of his times. And so was Joe Smallwood. What should one make, then, of the stark fact that the only time he speaks of women in all three articles is in the penultimate sentence of the final one? 

"The Parliament of Port Union. An Ever-to-be remembered Experience" by J.R. Smallwood, Port Union, Friday. [Originally published in the Evening Advocate 6 December 1921]

"A little kingdom within the borders of Newfoundland."

Thus I thought as I looked at the first annual convention of the F.P.U. that I have been privileged to attend.

For here, before my eyes, about me, was a parliament - a parliament of fishermen. Here were delegates from all the bays of the North, and from the South. Here were representatives delegated by many local councils to travel to the union capital; and here, at the fishermen's parliament, they are to express and give voice to the sentiments of the majority of their "constituents." Here, in short, was a national council representing fishermen, fishermen's interests, and all that fishermen stand for. Here, indeed, was a fully authorized, fully equipped parliament of Newfoundland. It was a sight well calculated to set the mind thinking furiously. This lesson in practical unionism, practical cooperation, is something whose equal I have not seen elsewhere - and I have attended labor meetings in three cities on the continent.

I confess here to a feeling of pride in Newfoundland as I looked about me and saw actually for myself this superb demonstration of the intellect of my native country.

Le me strike this down: I am convinced that the House of Assembly is made up of no greater intellect than I saw at this fishermen's parliament in the little republic of Port Union tonight. And I mean no disrespect to the Newfoundland House of Parliament, either!

The President of this little fishermen's republic, W.F. Coaker, sat surrounded by delegates representing thirty thousand fishermen. Immediately near him were the leading figures of the giant organization of which this was the 13th annual convention. Eleven members of the House of Assembly sat around in that parliament this night. They have come out of such conventions and surely there were others in this gathering who would some day follow in their footsteps.

My mind just couldn't help roving around. Here there were crowded into such compact area so many things eloquent of all the F.P.U. is and stands for. In the first place, the convention was being held in Port Union a town brought into existence by the money of the fishermen, marshalled by the constructive genius of the President, and made the headquarters of a union, a trading company, and a party, whose ramifications extend throughout the entire North of this country. Here in Port Union stands a huge plant and premises whose equal does not exist in Newfoundland. Here are wharves and piers which no other place in Newfoundland can offer. Here is a shipbuilding yard where already ten or twelve vessels have been turned out, where two are on the stocks, and where two more will be built before the winter shall have passed away; an electric company which lights and heats Port Union. Here is a fine large hotel - a moving picture theatre, beautiful church, fine houses, bottling works - all called out of the prolific vision of the President and founder of the organization, plus the unwavering support and sympathy of the fishermen-toilers. (7)

Here, too, were eleven members of the House of Assembly, as I have said, elected from and by the fishermen to represent them and to fight their battles in the national parliament. Where else, thought I, can constituents in this country meet eleven of their Assembly representatives in a convention and talk to them, listen to them, instruct them, advise them, and generally inform them of the wishes and desires of the fishermen voters? Here, gathered between four walls, were all types of delegates from all sides of the country - old men and middle-aged and young, representative of all shades of thought - seriously discussing and debating big subjects of grave and vital importance to our country. Where else in Newfoundland is this done? This convention represents, in my opinion, the most conscious, intelligent and enlightened citizenship that will be found in Newfoundland, all opinions of Tory and reactionary politicians to the contrary notwithstanding.

I rather think that things are taken for granted by many of us who are apt to unthinkingly accept anything as it comes. Citizenship calls for bold, conscious enlightened public opinion and action - and there is in Newfoundland no organization thru which such sentiment can take coherent form better than thru the F.P.U. This, I think, is the best type of citizenship and patriotism to be found.

How interesting - and how moving - to look around you and see men who have been with the union from the beginning, taking part in its fights and campaigns, sharing its troubles and difficulties, facing the scorn and hatred of enemies and opponents, thru thick and thin, fair weather and foul! I take off my hat to those men.

I am, since the convention, wiser in at least one respect - I can understand perhaps better than ever just why the North stands by Coaker, President of Port Union, and will stand by him. I had seen the President "in action" in the House and in other places. This was the first time seeing him in a convention. No written report of his speeches does him or them justice - one must be there to witness every gesture, hear every intonation and inflexion, and to watch him as he pours out the veritable torrent of words on whatever subject he happens to be handling. I consider President Coaker to be the foremost orator in Newfoundland to-day. He is at once authoritative and sincere. His knowledge is illimitable, his sincerity plain as the daylight, and his vision and faith and optimism a thing of infinite wonder to at least one Newfoundlander.

W.F. Coaker has more faith in Newfoundland than, I think, any other Newfoundlander. For all those years since 1908 he has kept hammering away with his message of faith and optimism, coupled with intelligent, honest action, and as he expounded it tonight it was enough to cheer the heart of any man who loved his country in the true spirit of patriotism. Here he sits amid delegates from all the harbors of all the bays of the North. Here he listens carefully to every word they utter. Here he jots down every now and then some utterance of some delegate. When this convention is over, this much is certain: W.F. Coaker will be as fully and authoritatively conversant with the most intimate concerns, affairs and thoughts of the North as if he were living personally in every harbor of the North, at one and the same time. I can understand, now, why when he stands up in his seat in the House, he gives free voice to the sentiment animating the entire North of this country. He is both the voice and the leader of the North.

I am barely back from tonight's session of the convention; so much has been said and done that my impressions are more or less chaotic. This stands out: the fishermen of the North of Newfoundland are far more fortunate - perhaps - than they imagine or realize in having at the van of their solid ranks a leader tried and true, capable, optimistic and sincere.

"A Memorable Convention. Two great Issues Brought by the Fishermen's Parliament," by J.R. Smallwood (on the Bonavista Branch). [Originally published in the Evening Advocate, 7 December 1921]

The F.P.U. Convention is over, and those of us who live south of Port Union are returning to-day, Sunday, by train. Pretty well everyone on this train was at the convention; so that, with the discussion and argument and debate that is going on, one could imagine himself attending another convention. Big questions are being debated and argued on all sides of me as I write this article on a valise set on my knees. Big subjects of national interest are being thrashed out by the delegates who crowd this car. It is the first phase of the aftermath; the aftermath of the fishermen's parliament.

This, perhaps, is the biggest feature of the F.P.U. Convention. This convention is more than a mere meeting of delegates. The scope of an F.P.U. Convention extends further than discussion at the Convention Hall. It goes afar. It sets the entire north talking, arguing, debating. Big problems are brought up at this convention; big problems of national interest are expounded by experts in their sphere. The delegates listen, absorb, give their personal and local council opinions, and carry back to their "constituents" the big news of the day. In this way is set in motion a discussion that extends throughout the north and lasts until [the] next convention. Out of all this debate, discussion and argument in all the bays and harbors, a strong public opinion emerges, and the north becomes a solid, enormous phalanx of union sentiment. In union councils in hundreds of harbors this winter such great subjects as Nationalization of fish exports, the Humber Valley project, etc., will be fought out, many a time.

Such is the real value of the convention: it is something like the text of a sermon, and what is brought there a winter-long sermon is preached by the entire north. This is a very splendid type of citizenship - one that is not equalled, I honestly believe, in any other part of the country. Nor would I imply thereby any disrespect for the rest of the country. But there are the facts; the North has its convention, where it can meet, face to face, its leaders and members. Such an enlightened public opinion as comes from much discussion on facts and truth is indeed an asset to any country.

I have often heard the North described as the ignorant, gullible part of Newfoundland. I want to say here that this is not only the case, but is the most enlightened section of the country. Take the district council chairmen; they are members of the Assembly and members of the Government. What there is to know about things concerning the country, they know. And what they know they tell their friends of the Union - so far, that is, of course, as it is compatible to the government to do. In other words, they take their constituents, the people of the North, into their confidence. Thus the North is able to intelligently take up and discuss the big problems before the country. I am a great believer in democracy; I believe sincerely in the people. It is pleasing to realize that out of the combined intellect and wisdom of the North wise and far-reaching decisions must and do and will evolve. My one regret in this connection is that the other sections of the country have not their conventions and "sub parliaments," so that they may enjoy the same opportunity of knowing and discussing national affairs. Where people have been hearing and reading about, talking, discussing and debating any particular subject for a couple or more years, it is impossible for politicians who blow along to successfully misrepresent the issues and to gull the people. That is why the Opposition will not - according to rumour - place candidates against Union men in Union districts next election. There is a tribute to the effectiveness of the F.P.U., its convention, and Councils!

A word as to the two main issues given definite and topical form and identity at the Convention. Of the two, I am, I think, interested most in Nationalization of fish exports. The Humber Valley project is a gigantic one, with immense possibilities in it for Newfoundland. If this projected industry will absorb, in a few years, 10,000 men, it is extremely good. That much - or part of them - taken from the fishery would of course increase the catch and thus enhance the price somewhat, making the work of fishing just as valuable as now both to the individuals engaged at it, and to the country as a country. In other words, the fishery would be the same then with 8 or 10 thousand men withdrawn from it, as now. But there are the 8,000 or 10,000 men. They earn an extra ten million dollars, of which the country gets 4,000,000 in taxes from the imports on which the ten million is spent. In other words this project would be valuable.

Nationalization of fish exports is a subject which interests and fascinates me. I see in it potentialities for good to Newfoundland which might outweigh even those of the Humber proposition. (8) Nationalization is something fundamental - something which would set in motion vast tendencies for good. After all, the fishery is the staple industry. Industrialism will come in Newfoundland - but, personally I want it to come in the right way and through the working of the right laws. Nationalization would mean this. It would make possible the coming of industrialism from within rather than from without. I want to see industrialism come to Newfoundland in such a way that Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders will get all there is in it to get. Just now we as a country, in common with all countries, are in a state of flux, in a period of depression. Necessarily, then, we must take hold of whatever immediate means of improvement may present itself. To my mind - and I write only my opinion here - we should enunciate as a policy that industrialism must come in Newfoundland in the way that will benefit Newfoundland most.

As I said on both occasions in the Convention when President Coaker did me the honor of inviting me to outline my views, nationalization is a national subject. National solution of a national problem: The problem being, of course, one of getting the most for our fish in the foreign markets that is humanly possible, by application of the best brains and recognition of the sanest laws of economics, to obtain.

A national solution of national problem. It is a national problem. It concerns more than the fishermen. It concerns everyone in Newfoundland, who has to make his living in Newfoundland. It concerns lawyers, clergy, teachers, office workers, wharf workers, factory workers, shop workers, road workers, and in short all workers and types of workers in the national industry, the staple product. And as I have said elsewhere, all life and conditions in Newfoundland take their colour from the measure of success met in the one big industry.

And that success depends on the marketing of the fish.

Therefore it is nationally essential to market the fish well.

But the fish is not marketed profitably and well.

And how to do so is the national problem.

And the solution of that problem is a national solution.


"Visitor gives his Impressions of the Fishermen's Parliament. Found more common sense and solid information in Union Convention than in House of Assembly," by J.R. Smallwood. [Originally published in the Evening Advocate 30 November 1923]

Contrary to regretting my decision to come all the distance from New York to attend the 15th annual convention of the Fishermen's Protective Union of Newfoundland, I have been congratulating myself ever since I arrived in the country and especially since I arrived at Port Union. (9) To have been here in the Capital of the North, taking even a minor part in the deliberations of the Fishermen's Parliament, has been a very great and a very rare pleasure. The memory of the long train-ride from New York, with the stopovers and delays, has faded before the keen relish with which I have attended the sittings of the fifteenth session of the Supreme Court of the powerful Fishermen's Union. Simply to hear the final speech of President Coaker, delivered a few minutes before the end of the session, was more than worth the coming. To have sat, as it were, at the feet of the hundreds of noble fishermen-delegates from the bays and harbors of the far-flung, spray-drenched coasts of our country, and to have listened attentively to their solid, sound, informative speeches, and to have enjoyed that priceless opportunity of finding out my countrymen's feelings and to get a glimpse of the sentiments that are moving them, was ample compensation and reward for that five-day train ride. I do not know, at the moment, where this time next year will find me. I do know, I think, that from that spot, wherever it be, I will come to attend the sixteenth annual convention of the fishermen's wonderful organization.

I declare and assert here that if President Coaker had done nothing else in his unique career than to organize this annual convention of fishermen-delegates, from all parts of the country, bringing with them the feelings of their fellows, and pooling their combined information in a convention, President's Coaker's good points would outweigh his bad ones.

For, my friends, this very sort of thing is the hope, the very hope, of Democracy. Rule by the people, for the people, positively cannot take place unless you have all the people, or most of them, seriously considering their welfare and considering the welfare of the people in general, and alert and vigilant to guard their rights, and bold to assert their rights, and unafraid to let the country and the government know what in, their opinion, should be done.

It is a wonderful achievement, the getting together, under one roof, of several hundred men who are experienced in life, experienced in the great industry of our country, men of thought, men of intelligence, men who have observed things and have not been slow to form their own judgement. They meet for several days and have a regular parliament of their own. Each man talks about the problems of the country, each man contributes his own views, his own information, to the general fund of opinion and information and thus it is possible for the convention to bring out the best opinion, soundest wisdom and most varied information that exists in the country. It is one thing to call a meeting of the Board of Trade, say; or the Fish Exporters' Association; or the Manufacturers' Association. These bodies include only a tiny section of the people, men, with special interests of their own. They can and will see things only from their own standpoint. But when a convention of the fishermen is called, you get the people themselves! You get the elected delegates from many dozens of bays and harbors, and it is as though you held a meeting of thirty or forty thousand fishermen. It is entirely impossible to exaggerate the value of such a wonderful clearing-house of the ideas, opinions and information of the people. No wonder President Coaker understands the people so well! No wonder he has such almost mysterious knowledge of the fishermen! No wonder he is so deeply informed on the great fishery of our island! No other man in Newfoundland can possibly have the knowledge and information that he possesses, and for a very good reason.

I have sat in the Press Gallery of the House of Assembly a great many times, and listened to the speeches and watched and followed the proceedings. I formed certain judgements of my own regarding the ability, worth and sincerity of the House. And I do not fear here to declare my opinion that out of these sessions of the Fishermen's Parliament come more sound, common-sense, better judgement, higher and loftier idealism and deeper principles. I heard speeches from fishermen at the convention that for clarity and expressiveness far excelled many of the speeches I heard in the House of Assembly. In the House of Assembly I have seen a great deal of insincere claptrap, a huge deal of buncombe, and heard more nonsense from supposedly intelligent men than ten sessions of the Fishermen's Parliament would contain.

It would be invidious, I suppose, to single out a few names from the many who took part in the debates of the convention. But I cannot refrain from mentioning one or two. The speech by Delegate Herbert Elliott, from Port Albert, N.D.B. [Notre Dame Bay], was a splendid effort at constructive, informative debate, and had it been delivered in the House of Assembly, and been reported in the papers, people would be remarking what a fine address it was. Mr. Elliott certainly opened the eyes of many of us with his wide information on fishery matters. I only wish the people who oppose a fish policy could have been there to hear him. Then, too, I greatly enjoyed the fine speech by Delegate Walter Watton, secretary of Fogo District Council. It was just surprising to hear the splendid speeches which these and other fishermen, men who do not pretend to be orators or public speakers, delivered at the sittings of the Supreme Council convention and the annual meetings of the various district councils. Here, at these district council meetings, the F.P.U. House of Assembly members could meet the representative men of their district, face to face, sitting around a common table, and man to man discussing the needs and problems of the district. How the members of non-union districts might envy the F.P.U. representatives this great opportunity! This, my friends, is the sort of thing that gives Demons (the People) a voice in Democracy.

Really, I cannot get over it. Here are several hundred fishermen, plain, honest, blunt, men without pretensions to statesmanship, actually coming by steamer and train from all directions to meet in a hall, and, spend three days talking over and debating the great problems of our country. No more do the fishermen permit House of Assembly representatives to handle the problems which affect the whole people, without having some voice in the solution of those problems. The old system was to elect a representative for four years and then give him full reign to do what he likes, say what he likes, vote how he likes, and generally, if he wishes, to represent himself or, what is much worse, represent and champion the selfish interests of some small group who made it worth the representative's while to take such and such a stand. Gone forever, so far as the North is concerned, is that sort of thing; that custom of the people to lie apathetically and uninterestedly and let the representative to do their thinking for them. Democracy, instead, is now coming into part of its own, and the People themselves are attempting to rule themselves. The citizens of old Greece had the best and finest democracy only as long as it was possible for the entire population of communities to meeting the public square and talk over their problems. That WAS democracy. That is the thing which the F.P.U. and the Convention and annual meetings make possible.

How I wish the other workers and toilers of our country could have such an opportunity to get together and talk matters over among themselves! If the workers of St. John's had some sort of central organization to which all the workers would be affiliated, and to which periodically they could send duly elected representatives to talk over and debate their problems! If only the workers out on the Humber industry, and on Bell Island, and indeed wherever there is an industry or wherever there are workers if only they had some sort of a clearing-house for their ideas and information! If only the fishermen in those parts of the country where the F.P.U. is not in existence could have some such organization!

And, above all, if only there were one grand central clearing-house for all the workers of Newfoundland! If it were possible to have a central organization embracing all the toilers of Newfoundland, whether fishermen or industrial worker, sea or land worker, hand or brain worker, men or women workers!

There must, and there will be, such an organization.


1.William Ford Coaker (19 October 1871 - 26 October 1938).

2. On the history of the FPU, see Ian McDonald, "To Each His Own": William Coaker and the Fishermen's Protective Union in Newfoundland Politics 1908-1925, St. John's 1987.

3.For details on Smallwood, see the following sources: Joseph R. Smallwood, I Chose Canada, Toronto 1973; Richard Gwyn, Smallwood: The Unlikely Revolutionary, Toronto 1968; Harold Horwood, Joey: The Life and Political Times of Joey Smallwood, Toronto 1989; Melvin Baker, "Joseph Roberts Smallwood," in Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, vol. 5, St. John's 1994, pp. 208-25 and " J.R. Smallwood Labour and Socialist Leader," Newfoundland Quarterly, vol. XCIII, no. 1 (Fall 1999), 23-8; Melvin Baker and Hans Rollmann, "Joey Smallwood He didn't see Confederation, but ... he did see a 'socialist' utopia by 1971!" in James R. Thoms, ed., Fifty Golden Years: The Illustrated Story of Newfoundland and Labrador's Union with Canada, St. John's 1999, 78-79; and the 1998 Advocate Press reprint of Smallwood's Coaker of Newfoundland, pp. 1-31.

4. Evening Advocate, 2 September 1921.

5. CNS Archives, Coll-9, file 1921, Smallwood to Coaker, 5 November 1921.

6. Evening Advocate 20, 22 and 28 November 1923.

7. On Port Union, see "Port Union," In Robert Cuff, ed. A Coaker Anthology, St. John's 1986, 103-14.

8. This refers to the government's efforts to establish a pulp and paper mill on the Humber River at Corner Brook. See James K. Hiller, "The Politics of Newsprint: The Newfoundland Pulp and Paper Industry, 1915-1939," Acadiensis, 19/2 (Spring 1990), pp. 3-39.

9. On Smallwood's activities in the early 1920s, see Baker, "Introduction," in Smallwood, Coaker of Newfoundland, pp. 1-31.