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St Pierre Island

ST PIERRE ISLAND and MIQUELON ISLAND, 10 m. off the south coast of Newfoundland, united area about 91 sq. m. Both are rugged masses of granite, with a few small streams and lakes, a thin covering of soil and scanty vegetation. Miquelon, the larger of the two, consists of Great Miquelon and Little Miquelon, or Langlade; previous to 1783 these were separated by a navigable channel, but they have since become connected by a dangerous mudbank. St Pierre has a sheltered harbour with about 14 ft. of water, and a good roadstead for large vessels. Their importance is due to their proximity to the great Banks, which makes them the centre of the French Atlantic fisheries. These are kept up by an elaborate system of bounties by the French government, which considers them of great importance as training sailors for the navy. Fishing lasts from May lill October, and is carried on by nearly five hundred vessels, of which about two-thirds are fitted out from St Pierre, the remainder coming from St Malo, Cancale and other French coast towns. The resident population, which centres in the town of St Pierre, is about 6500, swelled to over 10,000 for a time each year by extra fishing hands from France, but is steadily declining owing to emigration into Canada. Owing to the low rates of duty, vast quantities of goods, especially French wines and liquors, are imported, and smuggled to Newfoundland, the United States and. Canada, though of late years this has been checked by a gradual rise in the scale of duties, and by the presence since 1904 of a British consul. St Pierre is connected with Halifax (N.S.) and St Johns (Newfoundland) by a regular packet service, and is a station of the Anglo American Cable Co. and the Compagnie française des cdbles telegraphiques. Excellent facilities for primary and secondary education are given, but the attraction of the fisheries prevents their being fully used.

The islands were occupied by the French in 1660, and fortified in 1700. In 1702 they were captured by the British, and held till 1763, when they were given back to France as a fishing station. They are thus the sole remnant of the French colonies in North America. Destroyed by the English in 1778, restored to France in 1783, again captured and depopulated by the English in 1793, recovered by France in 1802 and lost in 1803, the islands have remained in undisputed French possession since 1814 (Treaty of Paris).

See Henrique, Les Colonies fran<;aises,t. ii. (Paris, 1889) ; Levasseur, La France, t. ii. (Paris, 1893); L'Annee colonials, yearly since 1899, contains statistics and a complete bibliography; P. T. McGrath in The New England Magazine (May 1903) describes the daily life of the people. (W. L. G.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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