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HUMANITIES 371 James E. Candow and Carol Corbin, editors. How Deep Is the Ocean? Historical Essays on Canada's Atlantic Fishery University College of Cape Breton Press. xviii, 288. $29.95 Misery does indeed love company- academic company, at any rate. In the present context, this is arguably a good thing. Among the recent spate of publications predicated by the collapse of Atlantic cod, James Candow and Carol Corbin's edited volume provides a comprehensive historical framework within which a five-hundred-year-old fishery, the way of life with which it was interwoven, and the consequences of its demise can be examined. Prefaced by Leslie Harris's eloquence, the eighteen essays begin with the first of four sections having the utilitarian title 'Early Fishery.' Following Stephen Davis's archaeological evidence of aboriginal fisheries (regrettably excluding Beothuks), Peter Pope provides an excellent description of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European fishery. His observation that, 'in its division of labour, work discipline, and size of work force, the ~arly­ modem fishing station was a kind ofpre-industrialfactory,' echoed inJeanFranc ;ois Briere's superbly detailed account of France's Newfoundland fisheries, acknowledges the sophisticated means by which cod was processed in the international economy that has characterized the northwest Atlantic fishery since its inception. Darlene Abreu-Perreira's unanticipated contention that Portugal was not a major sixteenth-century transatlantic fishing nation is followed by Briere's contribution to the section 'Eighteenth -Century Fishery' and Judith Tulloch's affirmation of Canso (Nova Scotia) as a port of international trade. Departing from the early fisheries' technological and international attributes, the third section, 'Nineteenth-Century Fishery,' focuses upon household and community, particularly financial interactions between merchant and fishing family. Sheila Andrews's fascinating portrait of Miscou (New Brunswick) households, for whom debts increased a debilitating sixfold in six years (1841 to 1847), is coupled with Roch Samson's account of credit-induced indebtedness throughout the Gaspe. -Acknowledging the oft-overlooked heterogeneity that characterized many Newfoundland outports, D.A. Macdonald examines how literacy influenced socio-economic position in the predominantly non-fishing community of Harbour Breton. Robert Sweeny, however, challenges the 'consensus [although no one is named] that ... merchant capital became so dominant through credit ... that for fishing families neither substantial capital accumulation nor significant social differentiation was possible.' Drawing upon Bonavista merchant ledgers, he asserts that debt 'was not enough to tie [fishermen] to anything,' and that inflated merchant prices were necessitated by forfeited loans. 372 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Although one can question whether Sweeny's merchant-fisherman financial relationships were typical - the r888-g1 Newfoundland fishery was comparatively poor- his hypotheses merit consideration, notwithstanding the lonely collection of footnotes that accompany them. Opening the fourth section, 'Twentieth-Century Fishery,' Candow will inform those unfamiliar with Newfoundland's fishery, despite a lack of graphs. Melvin Baker and Shannon Ryan's essay on Newfoundland's 193o34 Fishery Research Commission would have been strengthened by a description of the commission's research and by reference to contemporary scientific works that cite the efforts of early Newfoundland biologists, notably the unheralded Nancy Frost. Women drying rather than researching cod are the focus of Cynthia Boyd's forthright account of the labour, social, and family milieux of Grand Bank beachwomen. Miriam Wright's exemplary essay examines the influence of a bureaucrat 's 1944 Report on the Canadian Atlantic Sea Fishery on future state involvement in the fishery. She interprets deputy minister of fisheries Stewart Bates's arguments to rid Atlantic Canada of the saltfish trade as a precursor offisheries managementby 'university-educatedexperts.'Domination of such 'expert' views over those of fishermen is the premise of Barbara Neis's well-reasoned argument for the integration of fishermen's local knowledge with fisheries science. The massive twentieth-century increase in harvesting capacity, as B.A. Balcom notes, began paradoxically in Nova Scotia with a rejection of stearntrawler technology. Intemational participation inNewfoundland's offshore trawler fishery provides background for Raymond Blake's description of two international fishery agencies, ICNAF and NAFO, and their toothless regulatory powers. William Warner's evocative account of the unprecedented harvesting power of the 1950s stern-trawler fishery should be required reading for all who claim interest...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 371-372
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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