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Community Building on the Avalon Conference

"It is Within Our Grasp"
Breakfast with Sir William Coaker

Rick Boland is an actor and Artistic Associate with Donna Butt of Rising Tide Theatre. He is the co-author of "The New Founde Lande - Trinity Pageant" and is currently playing William Coaker in Paul Rowe�s "To Dare Mighty Things- William Coaker and the Fisherman�s Protective Union" at the Summer in the Bight Festival in Trinity.

William Coaker was born on the South side of St. John�s, the son of a schooner captain. At the age of 14 he organized the boys working on Job�s wharf and struck for wage parity with boys working on other wharves in St. John�s and won. At 16 he worked as a merchant�s agent in Notre Dame Bay. Convinced that agriculture was the answer to the economic woes facing the country in the 1880's he attended Agricultural College in Nova Scotia. He later trained as a telegrapher and worked at various stations around the island. In 1905 he and his wife and friend Edward Kierley moved to an island in Dildo Run and started a vegetable and dairy enterprise. He called the farm Coakerville.

It was here that he conceived the Fisherman�s Protective Union for the rest of his life he worked tirelessly to organize fishermen. Using the capital obtained from union dues and member investment he created the Fisherman�s Union Trading Company, The Fisherman�s Advocate ( A newspaper), The Town of Port Union, The Union Power Company, The Union Party ( a political party that held the balance of power in two elections). He became Minister of Fisheries and Marine and enacted a series of reforms in the fishery.

Coaker was a charismatic leader, a tireless worker, and a visionary who believed in the potential of rural Newfoundland. As a capacity builder he is un parallelled in Newfoundland�s history.

Over breakfast, Rick Boland , as Coaker will address the delegates to the conference as Coaker would have addressed the delegates to the Bonavista Congress in 1911. He will challenge the delegates to adopt a manifesto of the solutions to the problems of Rural Economic Development and to establish a cohesive organization to accomplish their aims. He will expound on the value of leadership and solidarity. Finally he will share his vision of the future of Newfoundland at the beginning of the Twentieth Century and charge the delegates with the creation of a future for Newfoundland in the 21st. Century.

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Newfoundland Time: 1/13/2004 10:03:16 AM

M-RON Downhomer