The text in this work is drawn from historical documents from 1900-1901 regarding the employment of female labour on fishing schooners that traveled seasonally from Newfoundland to Labrador. These documents, found
in the Maritime History Archive at Memorial University, reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of their time.
Even so, it seems remarkable that in 53 pages of questionnaires, responses, reports, memorandums, charts, letters, and resolutions, there is no evidence that anyone asked the "females" what they thought of their working
conditions and accommodations on board the vessels, or if there would be any "injurious effects" on them if female labour was prohibited. The enquiry was only concerned with "injurious effects" on the interests of the
Labrador fishery. Indeed, the questionnaires that were sent — to clergymen, schooner owners, Preventive Officers, and the Societies of United Fishermen — were all printed with the salutation DEAR SIR.
My amazement doubled when I found that the solution proposed by the Fisheries Board was not to improve quarters for women and girls on the vessels, but to prohibit them from working on them. Many respondents,
though, opposed this measure. Why? Because "cheap female labour is required" and "the fishery cannot pay a man to do a girl's work."