This Week in History
"To Each His Own"
|For the Week of Monday October 28, 2002
From November 1-3, 1909, the first annual meeting of the Supreme Council of the Fishermen’s Protective Union (FPU) was held at Change Islands, Newfoundland. Although short-lived, the FPU was a groundbreaking movement. It revolutionized Newfoundland’s fishing industry by encouraging equity among fishermen and merchants, and played an important role in developing the political and community life of the fishermen.
Coaker’s vision for the FPU included a cohesive community life. In 1916 construction began on the town of Port Union. Located in the Catalina region, this was the only town in Canadian history to be built and run by a union. Once constructed, Port Union housed the FPU headquarters and quickly became a thriving centre for commercial and industrial activity. The Union Trading Company, the Union Export Company and the Union Shipbuilding Company were located on the harbour. Port Union also had its own school, church and newspaper. A major addition in 1924, the Congress Hall was used for the FPU’s annual conventions.
Today, the Port Union Historic District retains many of its original structures. The Ryan Premises, headquarters of a significant company in Newfoundland’s fishing industry, is also a national historic site. For his leadership role in Newfoundland’s fishing community, a plaque for William Coaker stands in Port Union.
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