Hampton Hall is through the main front door at the Marine Institute and to the left. All lectures start at 8 pm. Free parking is available in front and to the west of the building.

Lectures are held on the last Thursday of the months of September, October, November, January, February, March and April. Please contact the office for symposia venues.

29 Jan Two Episodes in the Parliamentary History of Newfoundland and Labrador: The Rise and Fall of the House of Assembly, 1832 and 1933.

The Parliament of Newfoundland is unique in the history of parliaments in the Westminster tradition in that it was both created and abolished within a century. Based on the author's forthcoming history of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, this illustrated lecture will explore the circumstances surrounding the creation and the early days of the House of Assembly, and the remarkable circumstances which led to its demise in the era before confederation with Canada.

 John E. FitzGerald. 
26 Feb

Death of the National Dream: Fred Alderdice and his default plan

In October 1932, the newly elected Prime Minister of Newfoundland made a dramatic plan known to the British government. Fred Alderdice told the Secretary of State for the Dominions that the government had little choice but partially default on more than $5 million a year in debt payments. Britain reacted angrily. Its subsequent offer of a lifeline to pay a share of the year end interest on the debt, and the appointment of a royal commission to examine the future of Newfoundland and its financial situation and prospects, put the Dominion on a path that would see its constitutional status irreversibly changed.

Could Alderdice have played his cards differently? Could he have preserved Newfoundland’s constitutional independence? Did Newfoundlanders let down the dream and promise of a nation?

Author Doug Letto poses those questions and challenges a common view of how Newfoundand went from Dominion status to province of Canada.

Click player below to hear the lecture. Audio only available.


Doug Letto.
26 Mar

Trading and Raiding: Understanding Early French/Inuit Relationships in in Southern Labrador

Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries the social and economic life of the Labrador Inuit was increasingly entwined with French fishermen and settlers.  While crew on French fishing ships traveled annually to southern Labrador to make use of good harbours, French settlers from Quebec began to develop large concessions of land for the purposes of sealing, furring and trading.  As a result of these activities, French-Inuit interactions became increasingly commonplace.  The Inuit had settled in southern Labrador by the sixteenth century, likely as a deliberate strategy to obtain European materials, which they re-purposed to suit their own cultural needs.  This presentation elaborates on recent archaeological findings that illuminate the nature and extent of these complex interactions

Lisa Rankin
30 Apr

2015 George Story Lecture

“The Pirate Who Never Was? Eric Cobham and Invention in History” 


Those who ventured into the Newfoundland fishery and trade during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were confronted by many risks – hazards of navigation, uncertain conditions in the fishery, unpredictable markets. The frequent wars of the period could bring attacks on shipping and shore stations by hostile warships and privateers, while piracy could become a problem in peacetime. Unfortunately, piracy is one of those topics which generates a truly enormous volume of poor (if not outrightly bad) history. Too much of the literature is driven by sensational and fanciful, even outrageously erroneous, works which pander to readers whose understanding of piracy is governed by works of entertainment. This is as true for piracy in Newfoundland waters as it is for piracy in the Caribbean and elsewhere. I will explore this theme by examining one particular period in Newfoundland history – the twenty or so years immediately following the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713 – when piracy did flare up in Newfoundland waters, yet I shall also argue that one of the more notorious pirates of the period – Eric Cobham – probably never existed. In short, while piracy was real, the same cannot be said of all pirates.

OLAF JANZEN (PhD, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON) is Professor of History at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University in Corner Brook. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and member of several organizations, including the Navy Records Society, the International Maritime Economic History Association, the Canadian Nautical Research Society, the Society for Nautical Research, and the Newfoundland Historical Society. Dr. Janzen’s research specialization is the trade, society and defence of eighteenth-century Newfoundland, and he has published frequently on those themes in peer-reviewed journals, including Newfoundland & Labrador Studies. He contributed the chapter on the eighteenth century to A Short History of Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s, 2008). In 2013, a collection of many of his previously published articles was released by the International Maritime Economic History Association under the title War and Trade in Eighteenth-Century Newfoundland as No. 52 in the Association’s series, “Research in Maritime History.” He is the author of an on-line “A Reader’s Guide to the History of Newfoundland and Labrador to 1869" at http://www2.swgc.mun.ca/nfld_history/index.htm

Click player below to hear the lecture. Audio only available.


Olaf Janzen