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The front cover of a ledger found within the collection


Record No: mha00000370
Title: Ryan Brothers (Trinity, Newfoundland) fonds
Dates: 1906-1951
Location: Coll-011 MHA
Creator: Ryan Brothers Ltd. (Trinity, Nfld.)
Extent: 4.3 m of textual items
Organization: Organized in three series: Correspondence; Financial Records; Miscellaneous materials.
Source of Supplied Title: Title based on content of the fonds
Restrictions: No restrictions.
Adm. Hist/Bio. Sketch: Ryan Brothers Ltd, a Newfoundland mercantile firm, was established in Trinity in 1906, but it was part of a family business which had originated in Bonavista in 1869. It was owned initially in half-shares by James and Daniel Ryan, sons of Michael and Ellen (Fleming) Ryan of Bonavista.
     In 1869, James Ryan (1841-1917), with the help of his father, purchased a mercantile property at Bonavista owned by the Keen family. This property became the main premises of a firm that always went by the name James Ryan, but which employed several of his brothers. In 1874, the Ryans opened another establishment at King's Cove by purchasing premises formerly owned by James McBraire. The King's Cove branch was initially called James & D.A. Ryan, but soon became styled James Ryan & Co. and later Daniel Ryan & Co. Daniel A. Ryan became the resident manager of the King's Cove branch which was Ryans' main base for supplying the Labrador cod fishery.
     The Ryan brothers also expanded their supply trade on the coast of Labrador. They established branch stores at Batteau Island and Webbers Harbour and built a whaling factory at Hawke Harbour. In 1906 the Ryans purchased the vacant Garland premises (formerly the Lester premises) previously leased to Robinson Brooking & Co and Grieve & Bremner in Trinity Harbour. This facility provided them with warehouses and stores to supply the Labrador fishery and ample space for the storage, handling and shipment of fish to St. John's and overseas, in a spacious and well-sheltered harbour.
     Edmund J. Ryan, the youngest of seven Ryan Brothers, formerly a bookkeeper at King's Cove and manager of Ryan branches in Labrador, was installed as resident manger of Ryan Brothers Ltd. in Trinity. He was assisted by a nephew, Walter N. White, who worked as an accountant. Trinity immediately became the main supply and trans-shipment base for the Ryans, not only for Labrador fish but also for fish procured by the Bonavista and King's Cove branches. Ryan Brothers also became the largest mercantile firm in the local share fishery of Trinity Bay. When they added Ryan Brothers Ltd. to their business, James and Daniel Ryan possessed the largest mercantile operation outside St. John's. In peak years, they exported over 100,000 quintals of fish, upwards of 10 percent of the total Newfoundland production.
     When James Ryan died in 1917, his half of Ryan Brothers Ltd. was left in trust to his two sons, James and Herbert. When Daniel died in 1934, he willed his half share in one-third proportions each to his brother, his nephew Walter N. White, and son-in-law Frederick W. Ottenheimer. Ryan Brothers was reincorporated in 1936 under this new ownership structure and remained this way until the firm was liquidated in 1952.
     Ryan Brothers declined in trade with the decline of the Labrador fishery and the salt cod trade generally. In its last four years, the firm operated only a general store mainly on a cash basis.
Scope and Content: Fonds consists of business records for Ryan Brothers, Trinity, from its establishment in 1906 until its closure in 1951. The fonds consists of journals, ledgers, cash books, fish collection books and other financial records of the business operation at Trinity, correspondence, shipping papers, labour accounts and an account book for the whale factory at Hawke Harbour, Labrador.
     Records are arranged in three series: Correspondence; Financial records; Miscellaneous materials.
Terms Governing Use: Copyright held by the Maritime History Archive.
Acquisition Source: Keith Matthews
Associated Material: James T. Ryan fonds.
Associated Material: James Ryan and Co. (King's Cove, Nfld.) fonds.
Custodial History: Records were collected by Keith Matthews and turned over to the MHA
Finding Aids: MHA finding aid 22
Subject: Fisheries Newfoundland.
Subject: Merchants Newfoundland.
Subject: Whaling Labrador.
Subject: Trinity (N.L.)
Subject: Hawke Harbour (Labrador).
Subject: Business records.
Authors_Personal Name: Ryan, Daniel A. d.1934.
Authors_Personal Name: Ryan, Edmund J. 1863-1949.
Authors_Personal Name: Ryan, James T. 1842-1917.


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