A Voyage to Newfoundland


195 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-2867-9
DDC 917.1804'2




Edited by Edited and translated by Scott Jamieson
Reviewed by Rainer Baehre

Rainer Baehre is a member of the Historical Studies and Social/Cultural
programs at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University of
Newfoundland, and the author of Outrageous Seas: Shipwreck and Survival
in the Waters off Newfoundland, 1583–1893.


The French Shore was a geopolitical stretch of land along the west and
northwest coast of Newfoundland that existed from 1713 until 1904.
Although Newfoundland belonged to Britain, the British had granted
treaty rights to France to fish there and to limit the presence of
anyone else, including Newfoundland residents. In 1886, Julien Thoulet,
a French geologist (later recognized as “the father of French
oceanography”) sailed on an armed French naval vessel, La Clorinde,
which was scheduled to patrol the French Shore during the summer months.
While on board he wrote several articles describing his scientific
observations and the experiments he conducted; he also wrote an account
of his travels, Un Voyage a Terre-Neuve, which was published in 1891.
That book is edited and translated here by Scott Jamieson, a French
scholar at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Jamieson’s detailed
biographical introduction contextualizes Thoulet’s background and
provides detailed footnotes, a map, photographs, and letters relating to
the voyage.

In 12 chapters, Thoulet takes the reader from Lorient, France, across
the Atlantic Ocean to the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, the centre
of operations for the French fishing fleets and the last bastion of
France’s former glory in North America. There he gives the reader a
short geography and history lesson, providing a French perspective on
the fishing grounds—an area that was disputed mainly by
Newfoundland’s colonial population throughout the 19th century. In the
next seven chapters (the most engaging part of the book), Thoulet
details his travels from Bonne Bay to Cat Arm, a visit to Labrador and
Cape Breton, his return to Saint-Pierre, and then home.

Thoulet’s well-written, reflective account brings natural and
everyday history to life. His observations of fishers and settlers are
often fascinating. Jamieson’s fine translation does Thoulet’s
writing justice. In all, a worthy read.


Thoulet, Julien., “A Voyage to Newfoundland,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16968.