Beggars cannot be choosers. We wanted just companies, we gave a damn who they were, we had no prejudice against them. We went to Germany because Europe was scared of Soviet Russia and saw a communist revolution coming. The German industrialists were particularly scared. In 1950 I was the first public visitor who came to Germany from any country. The leaders of the German companies all spoke excellent English. I was impressed. I took every opportunity to speak to them and tell them that they should come to Newfoundland: “I’ve got an escape hatch for you, get established in my part of Canada, start a branch of your company in Newfoundland so you can have an escape hatch.” It was shrewd on my part. It fitted their mood.
— Joseph R. Smallwood
After Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949, Premier J.R. Smallwood believed that industrialization would prevent a mass exodus from the economically backward province to mainland Canada in search of employment. Escape Hatch traces Smallwood’s recruitment of each individual industry from the perspectives of both the Newfoundland government and the foreign industrialists. The book examines the conditions under which each of these industries operated and the reasons for their successes and failures.
This is the first in-depth account of how and why the Newfoundland government acquired 17 so-called New Industries—13 from Germany, one from Austria, one from Latvia, one from England, and one from Newfoundland—as well as the 1,000 or so immigrants who came to Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1950s and 1960s as a result of Smallwood’s initiative.
About the Author
Gerhard P. Bassler is professor emeritus at Memorial University of Newfoundland and a specialist in modern German history and Canadian migration history.