Prov­ince hon­ours lo­cal fish mer­chants

Earned ac­co­lades un­der the Pro­vin­cial His­toric Com­mem­o­ra­tions Pro­gram

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Editor@CB­N­com­pass.ca

Two lo­cal fish mer­chants were among the prac­tices, events, tra­di­tions and peo­ple hon­oured last month through the Pro­vin­cial His­toric Com­mem­o­ra­tions Pro­gram.

Nine­teenth cen­tury fish mer­chants Thomas Ri­d­ley and Roger F. Sweet­man were part of a group rec­og­nized for con­tribut­ing to New­found­land and Labrador’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment at an early stage in its his­tory post-Euro­pean set­tle­ment.

Ri­d­ley op­er­ated his busi­ness in Har­bour Grace, and the Ri­d­ley Of­fices build­ing from 1838 still stands to this day.

Ri­d­ley Hall, Thomas’ res­i­den­tial prop­erty built in 1834, was left in ru­ins fol­low­ing a fire in 2003. He was the first mer­chant to use a steamship in the an­nual seal hunt.

Roger F. Sweet­man first moved to Pla­cen­tia to help look af­ter the af­fairs of his fam­ily’s busi­ness, Saun­ders & Sweet­man, in the early 19th cen­tury, with his fa­ther Pierce di­rect­ing the busi­ness from Water­ford, Re­pub­lic of Ire­land.

He in­her­ited the com­pany af­ter Pierce’s death in 1841 and helped main­tain its po­si­tion as a ma­jor mer­can­tile pres­ence along the south coast and parts of the south­ern Avalon un­til his own death in 1862.

The third 19th cen­tury fish mer­chant hon­oured was John Bin­g­ley Gar­land of Trin­ity.

The Pro­vin­cial His­toric Com­mem­o­ra­tions Pro­gram was es­tab­lished in 2010. It has made 31 des­ig­na­tions since then.

The pro­gram en­cour­ages the pub­lic to nom­i­nate no­table as­pects of the prov­ince’s her­itage and cul­ture.

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