On the tracks


Balade En Rance St Suliac Yann Langevin 13693Balade En Rance St Suliac Yann Langevin 13693
©Balade En Rance St Suliac Yann Langevin 13693
Cod fishermen

on the benches of Newfoundland

Launched in the middle of the 16th century, cod fishing was at its peak in the 19th century. For nearly five centuries, French fishermen went every year to the banks of the island of Newfoundland off the coast of Canada. Saint-Malo was an important port for Newfoundlanders. The last Terre-Neuvas stopped in 1951.

The cod fishery

The cod fishery represented an important economic activity. The great fishery was practiced on the open sea on the banks. Two types of fishing were distinguished: green cod fishing, known as wandering fishing, and dry cod fishing, which was practiced sheltered from the winds and currents. The working conditions in the cold and humidity were obviously very difficult.

The green cod fishery

The ships left for a 6 to 7 month fishing season with crews of about thirty men. The vessels embarked dories, flat-bottomed boats that were maneuverable and easily stacked on deck. Once the ship arrived on the banks, the dories were put out to sea with two crewmen. They fished all day with drift lines. Once brought back to the boat, the cod was opened, washed, salted and stacked. The fish was then called “green cod”.

Dry cod fishing

This fishing technique required about 100 men to be on the ships. Once there, they would anchor in a Newfoundland harbor and build shacks on land to store and prepare the fish. They lived in these basic facilities. Each evening, the fish was brought ashore and dried on the shore. The conservation was better and back in France the export to the Mediterranean was facilitated.

Dory races

Today, dory races enliven summer festivals and events like in Saint-Suliac on the banks of the Rance. The dory is a flat-bottomed boat, 5 to 6 meters long. Of American origin, it was originally used to facilitate the departure from the beaches, then used for cod fishing, it was served by two sailors who went to lay the lines. After the disappearance of the terre-neuviers, this boat remained as an all-purpose boat in the Saint-Malo area. Some dories are equipped with a sail and a jib.

Meet a Terre-Neuvas

Don’t miss a visit to the private Terre-Neuvas museum in Saint-Malo. You will discover reconstructions of scenes of life aboard the Newfoundlanders: the “stern fishing” wheelhouse, the radio cabin, the crew station and even a sailor’s “bench”…But above all, you will be welcomed by former Newfoundlanders who will share their memories and anecdotes of cod fishing.>> link Newfoundlanders’ Museum

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