ea mammals such as the
porpoise were traditionally hunted for food and for the oil that
could be rendered from its fat. During the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, the Passamaquoddy people of New Brunswick and the Mi'kmaq
of Nova Scotia turned their hunting skills into a commercial pursuit,
in response to the European demand for fine oil which could be used
as a lubricant and lamp fuel. Lighthouse-keepers, for example,
preferred porpoise oil for their beacons, because it was unaffected
by cold weather and burned with little odour.
With the production of petroleum-based oils in the late nineteenth
century, commerce in porpoise oil rapidly came to an end and, with
it, a loss of lifestyle and income for Native hunters.