Winter is a great time to catch up on some reading and we here at the CSA thought you might like to know about a great book by Newfoundland author Shannon Ryan who wrote “The Ice Hunters” available from Breakwater Books. The book covers how the demand for oil to light and lubricate the industrial world changed the face of much of the planet. Newfoundland was part of this widespread transformation, as migratory cod fishermen settled here in the early 1800s in order to hunt seals in late winter and early spring. The seal fishery brought prosperity and growth and shaped this new society, but seal hunters and their families paid a heavy human cost in the lives lost and suffering experienced. The traditional oil industries were doomed with the discovery of mineral oils and the harnessing of electricity, and Newfoundland – along with other societies – faced painful adjustments while searching for alternative industries. However while its place in the economy declined, the seal fishery left an indelible imprint on Newfoundland’s culture and identity. This study, with its tables, maps and illustrations, examines the history of the Newfoundland seal fishery from its origins up to 1914, ranging in scope from the life of the hunter on the ice flows to the demands of the consumer in the market place.
It is available from Breakwater Books and can be purchased online here.