NORMAN, NATHAN, sealing captain, planter, office-holder, and politician; b. 22 Sept. 1809 at Brigus, Nfld; m. 9 Feb. 1841 Elizabeth Munden, and they had six children; d. 3 Sept. 1883 at Brigus.
Nathan Norman was a member of a family of substantial Newfoundland planters. He was educated in Brigus and trained in navigation at a school conducted by a British naval officer, Captain Youden, at nearby Bull Cove. A capable and efficient seaman, Norman commanded the brig Bickley in the Brigus-Halifax trade at the age of 21. He became a famous sealing captain in the heyday of the sail-powered sealing fleet (c. 1845) when about 400 Newfoundland vessels participated in the hunt. He was also an important planter in Labrador and for a number of years owned the largest fishing establishment in Indian Harbour on Groswater Bay, a rich fishing area, eventually selling out his room to Job Brothers and Company of St John’s. As a planter controlling a sizeable part of the fishing trade in that remote area Norman no doubt also acted as a seasonal merchant and supplier on the coast, probably with a line of credit from St John’s merchants such as Job Brothers or Punton and Munn of Harbour Grace. He was also said to have been the first man to explore the northern coast of Labrador in search of new cod fishing grounds.
Norman was the first justice of the peace for the Newfoundland territory of Labrador and was a friend and correspondent of Donald Alexander Smith*, sometime chief factor in Labrador of the Hudson’s Bay Company. He represented Port de Grave in the House of Assembly from 1878 to 1882 as a member of the first administration of William Vallance Whiteway* and was locally celebrated for the provision of a public grindstone in his native Brigus.
Business and general directory of Nfld., 1877: 15. Chafe’s sealing book (1923). Prowse, Hist. of Nfld. (1895), 665. Nicholas Smith, Fifty-two years at the Labrador fishery (London, 1936), 10. [H.] B. Willson, The life of Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O. (2v., Boston and New York, 1915), I: 137, 165–66, 227–28.