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Maritime History Archive

FPU Circular Letters

The Circular Letters were a valuable source of communication between W.F. Coaker and the Union membership. Written by Coaker in a concise, matter of fact style, but sometimes containing invective against perceived enemies, the Circulars were distributed to local councils as a means of providing members with regular updates on Union business, fishery intelligence and political affairs. The Circulars first appeared in 1912; surviving copies date from 1915 to 1939, and are available at both the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives and the Maritime History Archive. There are gaps in both collections, however.

Circular Letter No. 12. Aug 17, 1918 — report on the progress of the Union Trading Company - that it has withstood “tremendous attacks” and urges Union members to continue to support it by purchasing shares and bonds.

Circular Letter No. 14. Aug 31, 1918 — report on the prices of fish and availability of flour and other goods.

Circular Letter No. 17. Sep 21, 1918 — report on market conditions and prices for fish, oil, sugar, flour, molasses, etc., and call for carpenters and coopers to work at Port Union.

Circular Letter No. 18. Sep 28, 1918 — report on fish prices, availability of flour, fish cargoes, and notice of two members expelled from the Union.

Circular Letter No. 20. Oct 12, 1918 — report on the potential end to the War, fish prices, flour and fish cargoes.

Circular Letter No. 22. Nov 09, 1918 — discussion on date and travel arrangements for the FPU annual convention, report on fish prices, markets and cargoes, comment on the end of the War, and a call for members to purchase shares and bonds to help provide sufficient capital for the Trading Company and Union Export Company.

Circular Letter No. 24. Nov 30, 1918 — report on prices and update on convention arrangements.

Circular Letter No. 25. Dec 23, 1918 — report on deteriorating market conditions for fish since the end of the War, and reiteration of the need for more capital for Union companies.

Circular Letter No. 03. Jan 15, 1920 — call for Union members to, “unite in electing the most capable Union men among them” to the Road Board elections set for February 24th. They must repeat the success they experience in the November general election.

Circular Letter No. 04. Apr 05, 1920 — comment on the market regulations soon to be enacted and the need for fishermen to improve the cure, discussion of a proposal to create memorial, stained-glass windows in the Port Union Church for Coaker recruits who were killed in the War, and advice on the need for early fish but not too large a catch.

Circular Letter No. 05. May 26, 1920 — commenting on the Fishery regulations about to be passed by his government, and generally reporting on market conditions and prices, and other business of the Trading Company.

Circular Letter No. 06. Jun 07, 1920 — report on difficulties in the markets, problems with sugar and salt, the need for better cure, and, due to its overextended financial position, the inability of the Trading Company to supply credit to many harbours.

Circular Letter No. 07. Jun 21, 1920 — report on market conditions, instructions on how to split and clean fish to produce the highest value, an appeal for support on the new “fish regulations,” and also a reminder to make contributions for the Church windows to commemorate the Coaker recruits.

Circular Letter No. 08. Aug 28, 1920 — appeal for Union members to support the fish marketing regulations because they are in the fishermen's interest, and “don't mind the talk and tattle of buyers or enemies.”

Circular Letter No. 10. Sep 23, 1920 — report on depressed market conditions and outlook - also reminding members not to be swayed in their support by opponents of the government and the Union.

Circular Letter No. 11. Oct 14, 1920 — discussion of market conditions, catches and prices.

Circular Letter No. 13. Oct 30, 1920 — report on market conditions and expression of regret that fishermen had not heeded his advice - they caught too much fish and it will have to be dumped on the market depressing prices further.

Circular Letter No. 16. Dec 24, 1920 — rebuke against Trading Company clerks who have disobeyed Coaker's instruction and given out too much credit.

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