James K. Hiller (Emeritus; Memorial University of Newfoundland) – Newfoundland is often overlooked in studies of international and imperial relations in the early 20th century, or treated as a marginal player. During the premiership of Sir Robert Bond (1900-1909), however, the colony raised some important issues of principle concerning the treaty rights of French and United States fishermen in Newfoundland waters, and the relationship between a colony with responsible government and the British authorities. These disputes, especially that with the United States, necessarily involved Canada as well.
This seminar presentation surveys these issues from a Newfoundland perspective and examines the tense relationship that developed between the Bond government and the Colonial Office in London. It was a clash between colonial nationalism on the one hand and imperial priorities and policies on the other. Both disputes were eventually resolved by negotiation (France) and arbitration (United States), and helped define the colony’s future and its relationship with its neighbours and with Britain.