Dates of Creation
During the 1917 session of the House of Assembly, a petition was presented from a group of merchants stating grievances against charitable organizations operating on the coast of Labrador, namely the International Grenfell Association (IGA) and the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fisherman (RNMDSF). The merchants claimed the charities misrepresented Newfoundlanders as paupers; that the charities were in direct competition with merchants; that Grenfell cooperative stores were being subsidized by unknowing American philanthropists, and that these charities had committed breaches in the Customs Act. On 21 July 1917 the IGA officially petitioned the Governor to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the charges against them.
On 15 August, the Directors of the IGA sent a petition to St. Johnís newspapers, requesting that the Commissionís mandate be extended to include an overall investigation of the operations of the IGA. The Directors feared that the enquiry could have a detrimental effect on the reputation of the IGA. The Royal Commission was appointed by Order-in-Council 17 August 1917, under the Public Enquiries Act (CSN, 1916, c. 30). However, the Commission was only mandated to investigate the allegations made by the merchants in their petition.
On 4 September, the IGA made a second appeal for an extended mandate through their solicitor Brian Dunfield. On 15 September a new Order-in-Council was issued. This new Commission, which contained the original mandate, was also instructed to investigate the work of the IGA and to what extent and in what way that work was a public benefit. Normally when a commission is cancelled, the new Order-in-Council is issued under the new date. However, in the case of the Grenfell Enquiry the new Order was issued in the same date as the old one.
The Commission began on 6 September 1917 at the Court House in St. Johnís. Both the IGA and the petitioners had counsel throughout the enquiry. The Commission travelled to Harbour Grace, Carbonear, the Northern Peninsula and the coast of Labrador. Sixty witnesses gave testimony.
In the final report Squarey examines each aspect of the IGA operations, including hospitals, schools, agriculture, the St. Anthony Orphanage, the Grenfell Hotel, and Mission machine shop and wharfs. The Commission concluded that the petitioners failed to prove their complaints. Although the cooperative stores were established by Grenfell, the commissioner was unable to discover any connection between the IGA and the stores. Shares in the co-ops were owned by area fishermen, and did not receive funding through charity. Grenfell denied that he portrayed Newfoundlanders as paupers. He maintained that his lectures were usually organized and attended by Newfoundlanders. However, he admitted that the newspaper reporters who attended his lectures dramatised the poverty with "kindly enthusiasm." No breaches of the Customs Act were discovered. However, Squarey recommended that to remove any feelings of unfair competition the IGA pay duty on any clothing imported and the Government rebate the amount annually. Throughout the report Squarey praised the work of the IGA, and pointed out that their work saved the Newfoundland Government money.
Previously known as Enquiry into the Affairs of the IGA
Also commonly known as Squarey Commission
Source of Title
Source of Acquisition
Author Access Points