In 1524, fishing vessels from Rouen
were already operating in the waters off the coast of Newfoundland.
Ships from Honfleur arrived shortly after and soon began making
regular trips to the mouth of the St. Lawrence, Gaspé Bay
and the area around Percé and Bonaventure islands.
In the seventeenth century, Captain François Doublet of Honfleur
was granted a fishing property on the Madeleine Islands, where he
made an effort to establish a station for the sedentary fishery
from 1663 to 1664. 1
When the 1681 naval ordinance was issued, shipowners from Honfleur
tried to organize themselves to meet the challenge of fishing in
distant seas. 2 After
the Treaty of Utrecht was signed (1713), they engaged in the dry
fishery on the coasts of Labrador and Cape Breton Island. However,
their preferred fishing grounds were on the Grand Bank because
Parisians, like the inhabitants of the coast of Normandy, preferred
to eat green cod on the numerous meatless days imposed by the
The narrative that follows is both a presentation and an adaptation
of the log kept by Jean Marin Le Roy, a pilot from Honfleur who was
first mate on the Saint-André. The log describes the ship's
voyage to Newfoundland and its fishing expedition on the Grand Bank
from Wednesday, January 23 to Saturday, October 26, 1754.
The introduction and conclusion of the narrative introduce Le Roy
and provide the context of the expedition, while the other five
sections correspond to the stages of the voyage:
us from Honfleur to Aunis and the heart of the salt marshes of
Saintonge, where fishermen from Normandy were able to procure salt
without paying the
we spend some time with the crew in harbours around La Rochelle
in search of shelter and the salt needed to preserve the fish.
provides a day-to-day account of the transatlantic voyage and
reveals some of the dangers facing ships engaged in the
introduces us to the daily life of the fishermen. Since Le Roy
provides only an overview of the time he spent on the Bank, I
will try to add to his description of daily life on a
- takes us back
to Honfleur once the hold is full of cod.
I will intervene from time to time as narrator to explain
specific situations, give the reader a greater appreciation of
the richness of this personal account and break the monotony of
the daily report. I have tried as much as possible to maintain
the original format of the log. Have a good fishing trip!