Maritime History On-line Catalogue
|Home New Search|
|An image of the majority of the collection in our holdings|
|Record No:|| mha00000543|
|Title:|| S. W. Mifflin Ltd. Fonds|
|Dates:|| ca. 1937-1990|
|Location:|| Banks 60, 61, and 65|
|Provenance:|| S.W. Mifflin Ltd|
|Extent:|| 9 m of textual material|
|Source of Supplied Title:|| Supplied title based on the subject matter of the collection|
|Restrictions:|| No restrictions.|
|Adm. Hist/Bio. Sketch:|| Philip Templeman (1860-1926) emerged from the local planter class, like other Bonavista merchants in the second half of the nineteenth century, and created one of Newfoundland's most successful fish merchant firms. Philip's father, William, was a planter who, in 1871, expanded his sphere of activity beyond the confines of a single fishing operation to become a trader, providing goods to other fishing crews in exchange for their fish. From the age of thirteen until his father's death in 1878, Philip worked in the family business. In 1884, Philip began a business on his own account at Bonavista, purchasing the harbour front premises of the bankrupted firm of James Saint, adjacent to competitors James Ryan on the south and Baine, Johnston and Company and William Kough on the north.
The firm quickly established itself as an able competitor of James Ryan (by then one of Newfoundland's most prosperous outport merchants), and soon attracted hundreds of clients. Typical of outport firms in the early years, Templeman had a connection with a St. John's firm, Goodfellow & Company. The exact nature of the relationship is unclear but, unlike many smaller firms, Templeman appears to have been an independent merchant by 1895, exporting his own fish to market. In fact, with exports exceeding 70,000 quintals annually by 1913, he was one of Newfoundland's largest producers.
While Templeman had fewer vessels than some outport firms, approximately twenty-five compared to Ryan's two hundred for example, several of his vessels were larger than typical fishing and coasting schooners, and were capable of foreign-going voyages, including Kuvera (110 tons), Reliance (123 tons), Gertrude L. (105 tons), Yukon (120 tons), Monitor (138 tons), Falka (129 tons), and Retraction (183 tons). The fact that Templeman exported the firm's produce to European and Mediterranean markets in these vessels distinguishes him from other merchants, who either chartered foreign vessels for that purpose, as did Ryan, or relied on their St. John's connection to provide the service. Templeman's appointment to the Legislative Council in 1913, where he joined James Ryan and other members of Newfoundland's merchant elite, is a testament both to his prominence in the trade as well as his support of Prime Minister Edward Morris.
In keeping with his competitors, Templeman established a battery of seasonal barter shops and separate branches to better serve regular clients, and also to generate new business. Over the years, Templeman established barter shops, usually near Ryan and other competitors, at Cape Shore, Bayley's Cove, Rolling Cove, Mockbeggar, and Canaille, which were all located in the town of Bonavista. There were also barters shops at nearby Elliston, Newman's Cove, and Amherst Cove, as well as others at Musgrave Harbour, LaScie, William's Port on the French Shore, Frenchman's Island, Grady, and Indian Tickle in Labrador, along with premises at St. John's. Templeman opened a year-round branch at Catalina in 1901.
At age 15, Samuel William Mifflin (1886-1963), son of Bonavista Postmaster James Mifflin and Drucilla Templeman, entered the employ of his uncle, Philip Templeman, at Bonavista. By then Templeman had put his fishery supply business, started in 1884, on a solid footing, making it one of the most successful firms in outport Newfoundland and it was an obvious place to look for employment. In 1907, Philip transferred his nephew to the Catalina branch. When the Catalina branch manager or "agent" left in 1924, S.W. Mifflin took the position. By then, however, the firm was already on the verge of decline. Philip Templeman died in 1926, and the business passed to his son, Edgar. The firm's financial position had deteriorated, apparently forcing Edgar to relinquish control of the operation two years later.
The firm incorporated as Philip Templeman Limited in 1928, with all the shares held by outside investors as follows: 1 each by Miss Mary Goodland, L. Edward Emerson, and Major General Sir H.H. Tudor, and 1497 by Holmwood and Holmwood (Nfld.) Limited which, presumably, was the major creditor. Tudor, address given as St. John's, was joined on the board of directors by Neville B. Manson and Ian J. Fraser of London, Thornton W. Randell of Bonavista (though he was not a resident at the time), and Sir Marmaduke G. Winter and Edgar Templeman of St. John's.
Despite being absorbed by the outside group, the firm's situation remained untenable. In 1935, the firm fell into receivership but S.W. Mifflin continued to manage the Catalina branch for the trustees while at Bonavista, J.T. Swyers Company Limited managed the firm's other assets. Two years later, Mifflin purchased the Catalina branch from the trustees, and J.T. Swyers Co., Ltd. acquired the Bonavista portion of the business, including the satellite barter shops.
In 1944, Mifflin incorporated the business as S.W. Mifflin Ltd. and two of his sons, Harold I. (1910-1973) and Gordon C., joined the firm as co-directors about that time. Two other sons, Frederick M. (-1944) and Arthur Samuel (1920-), did not play significant roles in the business. Frederick, captain of a Royal Air Force Lancaster bomber during World War II, was killed in a bombing raid over Germany. Arthur was a director of the company but he pursued a career in law with Mifflin, O'Neil and Carter at St. John's, and was later appointed as a Justice of the Newfoundland Supreme Court.
Under S.W. Mifflin's direction, the firm emerged as a leader in the fish trade - perhaps the largest salt fish exporter in the country during the second half of this century. While other firms were abandoning the salt codfish trade in favour of retail or fresh frozen production, S.W. Mifflin Ltd. invested in the traditional industry. To supplement the extensive Templeman premises, the firm built new facilities, occupying nine buildings along the Catalina waterfront by 1949. In order to maintain a consistent supply of produce, the firm had five vessels to collect fish around the island and along the Labrador coast: the Catalina Trader (150 tons - a motor vessel), E. Dawe - later Patricia Jane (67 tons), Mary E. Kemp (67 tons), Betty Myrna (66 tons), and Maggie Stone (65 tons). S.W. Mifflin Ltd. also supplied between 10 and 20 Labrador schooners each year in addition to hundreds of "shore" fishermen. Exports ranged from 40,000 to 50,000 quintals per year, and the firm had roughly 50 permanent and 100 seasonal employees.
By the late 1950s, most of the prominent fish merchants on the Bonavista Peninsula - James Ryan Limited, J.T. Swyers Company Ltd., and the Fishermen's Union Trading Company Limited - no longer had any interest in the salt cod trade. Undeterred by the disinterest of competitors, or perhaps inspired by it, S.W. Mifflin Ltd. invested more heavily in the industry. In 1957, the company followed others by building a large retail store (16,000 sq. ft.) across the street from the premises, complete with a modern self-serve grocery and complemented by an ample dry goods department. But in the same year, the firm also built a large fish drying plant (50,000 sq. ft.) equipped with the largest artificial dryer in Canada, capable of drying 75,000-100,000 quintals of fish per year. S.W. Mifflin Ltd. set up a subsidiary company, Mifflin Fisheries Limited, incorporated in 1956, with the same directors to run the new operation.
In later years the Labrador fishery declined but the company was still able to attract a sizable quantity of fish. In 1962, for example, Mifflin Fisheries Limited supplied just three schooners for the Labrador fishery (including the Sherman Zwicker under Captain Max Burry of Glovertown - now a museum ship) but, nevertheless, the firm was collecting in the vicinity of 85,000 quintal per year. In addition to salt codfish exports, the firm produced and sold pickled herring, mackerel, salmon, and turbot, as well as lingon berries. The firm also sold salt, coal, and building materials. In this period, S.W. Mifflin Ltd. and Mifflin Fisheries Limited had approximately 40 permanent and 200 seasonal employees.
The firm continued to be one of the largest salt fish exporters in the country until the late 1980s when a decline in the inshore fishery intervened. In 1989, the firm exited the salt fish trade and permanently closed the plant. In 1985, Mifflin Fisheries became Mifflin Enterprises Limited but reverted back to the original name six years later. Sometime after 1991, Mifflin Fisheries Limited was absorbed back into S.W. Mifflin Ltd. and the company concentrated its efforts on the retail trade. With Stella (Blackmore) Mifflin, widow of Harold, in charge, the company completely revamped its retail store in 1994, creating a modern hardware and grocery facility. The fish plant was sold to Seafreez Foods Ltd. (owned by Barry Fisheries of Curling) in 1997, to be used as a manufacturing facility for seal products.
"Late Hon. Philip Templeman", Newfoundland Quarterly, July 1926, Vol. 26(1), p.27
"New Year Honours and Appointments", Newfoundland Quarterly, April 1913, Vol. 12(4), pp. 1-2
"The Story of S.W. Mifflin of Catalina", Newfoundland Journal of Commerce, June, 1949
"S.W. Mifflin Ltd., Catalina, Trinity Bay", Newfoundland Journal of Commerce, May, 1963
Newfoundland Registry of Deeds and Companies files
Philip Templeman (Bonavista) Ledger, 1901, Provincial Archives of Newfoundland & Labrador
Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, Vol. V. St. John's: Newfoundland Book Publishers Limited, p. 352
Polk's Directory (for St. John's), 1960/61
|Scope and Content:|| Fonds contains the records of S.W. Mifflin, S.W. Mifflin Ltd. and Mifflin Fisheries Limited from 1937-1989. Mifflin succeeded the Catalina branch of the firm of Philip Templeman in 1937. Proprietor Samuel W. Mifflin continued the general merchant and fishery supply business and many of the record series also continue in the same manner. The fonds consists mainly of financial records with ledgers, day books, cash books, journals, memo books; diaries, and records related to the fishery such as fish books and receipts.
Fonds is arranged chronologically in eleven series: Ledgers (1938-1960), Memo Books (1938-1959), Journals (1937-1987), Daybooks (1938-1957), Diaries (1938-1989), Cash Books (1951-1985), Stock/Inventory Books (1944-1957), Labour and Fish Payroll Books (1987-1989), Fish Books (1954-1989), Payroll Ledgers (1986-1990), and Miscellaneous (1947-1980).
|Terms Governing Use:|| Requests to reproduce any part of this fonds should be referred to the Archivist.|
|Associated Material:|| Templeman, Philip Ltd., Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, MG 521|
|Custodial History:|| The records were held at the firm's premises in Catalina until they were donated to the Maritime History Archive by Stella Mifflin and family in 1996. |
|Finding Aid on the Web:||http://www.mun.ca/mha/holdings/findingaids/mifflin.php|
|Local Note:|| Copyright is held by the creator or his/her heirs.|
Location: Bank 60-61 and 65, Maritime History Archive
Finding Aid # 128
|Subject:|| S.W. Mifflin. 1886-1963|
|Subject:|| Harold I. Mifflin. 1910-1973|
|Subject:|| Gordon C. Mifflin|
|Subject:|| Merchants Newfoundland|
|Subject:|| Fisheries Newfoundland|
|Subject:|| Business records|
|Subject:|| Catalina (N.L.)|
Home New Search