James Ryan Ltd. Diaries, Trinity

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The Ryan's of Bonavista created a mercantile empire on the northeast coast of Newfoundland in the second half of the nineteenth century which was comparable in scale with many of the Water Street merchant houses of St. John's.

Michael Ryan came to Bonavista from Ireland about 1830. He married Mary Ellen Fleming and had nine children, including James (b.1842) , Daniel (b.1851) and Edmund (b.1863). James Ryan founded the fishery supply and general trade business at Bonavista in 1857. During the next three decades James, along with brothers Daniel, Edmund, Nicholas, and to lesser degrees Patrick, Michael J. and John, expanded the business into three separate firms with branch operations and barter shops in many communities throughout Bonavista and Trinity Bay's and along the coast of Labrador.

James, Daniel and Edmund Ryan started a firm, known as Ryan Brothers, at Trinity in 1906, taking over the old Garland premises formerly occupied by Grieve and Bremner and Robert S. Bremner. The firm was managed by Edmund Ryan. The firm supplied Trinity Bay and Conception Bay schooners involved in the Labrador trade. The firm also operated its own Labrador schooners out of Trinity and supplied fishermen engaged in the local shore fishery. James was the owner of Ryan Brothers, though public perception was that Edmund was the proprietor. When the firm was incorporated in 1936, Mrs. Katherine Ryan (James' widow) held fifty percent of the shares, compared to roughly 16 percent each for Edmund, Walter N. White and Fred Ottenheimer (Daniel's son-in-law). James' sons, Herbert and James, acquired their mother's fifty percent share of the business after she died in 1945. By the time of Edmund's death in 1949, the firm had all but exited the salt fish trade. Ryan Brother's at Trinity continued primarily as a retail business under the management of Walter N. White, a long time employee and nephew of the Ryan Brother's until its closure in 1952.

Some of these diaries came from the McGrath family home in August 2018 donated by Anne Dwyer (grand daughter to Bill McGrath) who was working for the Ryan's in Trinity. The Trinity diaries were written by E.J. Ryan and the King's Cove diaries were written by John Hart. Diaries were held in the McGrath family home from the closure of the business in 1952 until they were donated in 2018.

View page text transcripts in PDF format for each year
1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1944

Also see:
James Ryan Ltd. Diaries, King's Cove
James Ryan Ltd. Diaries, Bonavista