Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) live in the cold waters of the northern seas. In the late 1400s Europeans exploring Newfoundland and Labrador noted that large numbers of cod frequented coastal waters, were easy to catch, and wonderful to eat. In the late 1500s hundreds of Basque vessels participated in the cod fishery. By the 1700s dried and salted cod was a staple food throughout Europe, the American colonies, and the Mediterranean.
Over the centuries, fishermen successfully developed more efficient techniques for finding, catching, and processing this seemingly unlimited, highly sought after resource. In 1992 the Canadian government, alarmed by studies reporting the decline of the cod stocks to the point that they were on the verge of becoming commercially extinct, imposed a moratorium on cod fishing in sections of Newfoundland-Labrador. This moratorium remains in place.These images are largely from the collection of Donald B. MacMillan. In the early twentieth century he photographed aspects of the Labrador fishery when it was conducted using schooners, steamships, and shore-based stations.
The generosity of the Friends of Bowdoin College has made this exhibition possible.