Bishop Mullock’s Letter to the Road Board re Salmonier Line 1856

[This letter was written by Bishop Mullock from Placentia, Aug 10 1856.]

To the Honorable the Board of Works.
Gentlemen, — Having arrived here last night, it may be interesting
to you to know the state of the Road between St John’s and this.
I will therefore divide the road into four sections and give you a
description of each, premising, however, that the advertisement
for Contracting for carrying the Mail by waggon may be withdrawn,
as the Road is impassable for a horse even in any weather without
the assistance of a gang of men.
1.– The Road from St John’s to the middle house on the Salmonier
Road is fair enough, and after a little improvement about Holyrood
may be considered as finished.
Considering the ground and the resources of the country all that is
necessary is to keep it in repair.
2.– From Shelly’s to Collinet the greater part of the Road is only a
bridle path, and a very dangerous one. And near Salmonier, it is
almost impassable for foot passengers. If Mr. Delaney be allowed to
continue his men until October, and a hundred or two added to the
grant for that time, a carriage road will be made to Colinet (sic). Mr.
Byrne will I hope, have the portion between Shelly’s and Salmonier
also completed.
3.– The Road that Mr. Delany has already finished in his portion is
as good as any in the neighbourhood of St John’s, and carrages (sic)
may be driven with safety on it at the rate of ten mile an hour.
4.– At the Placentia side of Colinet, very little has been done unless
to longer (sic) the greater portion of the marshes. Unless in dry
weather it is totally unsafe for a horse. My waggon was drawn
through the swamps by 25 or 30 men, but although in the month
of August it was with the greatest difficulty that the horses could be
got through. Mr. Rielly is anxious to get the Road done, but the small
sum placed at his disposal is of no use, unless to patch up the very
bad places. I regret to hear that a sum of over L600 is in the hands
of the Placentia Board, and that it is intended to keep this until the
Fall, more as a pauper relief fund than a road fund.
Now, with this money something may be done, but according to the
system of laying it out in the Fall, it is a fraud on the public and
a source of demoralization for the people. The road money is more
considered as a supplementary pauper fund to be dole out not for the
work done (for at the season it is to be distributed very little work
can be done.) but for the benefit of people who look to it as a resource
after the summer fishery ; they therefore become improvident — lose
their energy and independence, and like the yellow meal, the road money
becomes a curse instead of a blessing. I hope that your Honourable Board
will cause the remaining L600 to be laid out on the road, otherwise the
whole affair is but a delusion, and Placentia will be as far as ever from
St John’s. ~ It is perfectly intolerable, barbarous, and savage; and
calculated to brutalize the poor people who for want of roads are
isolated from all human intercourse. I would also suggest the
establishment of a house between Colinet and Placentia, and a grant
of about L25 a-year to the occupier for a few years. Were it not that
I had for a night the hospitable shelter of Mr. Reilly’s tilt, I should have
slept in the woods. I may remark, also that the land is excellent, deep
rich soil, fine timber and water, everything in fact requisite for the
home of a rich and happy people. All that is required is, that the
country should be opened up and when its capability will be known,
an industrious class of settlers will be located there, and Newfoundland,
instead of being a ?blot on civilization, will become what God intended
it, a cultivated country and not a savage wilderness.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . I have the honour to remain, Gentlemen,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Your most obedient servant,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (no signature)
Placentia, August 10 1856.

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