John Rorke and Sons

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

John Rorke and Sons

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1839-1980

History

John Rorke & Sons Limited (1839-1980) was a family mercantile firm, located in Carbonear, Newfoundland, which engaged in the Labrador fisheries and the import-export trade of the Colony, later expanding into the retail trade.

The company was founded by John Rorke (1807-1896). Rorke emigrated to Newfoundland (1824) from Athlone, Ireland, as a clerk in the fishery supply and general trade firm of Bennett and Ridley, Harbour Grace. By 1830, Rorke had married Mary Tocque (Carbonear), daughter of prominent local merchant and had become a planter-trader in the fishery at Adam's Cove, just north of Carbonear. In 1839 Rorke purchased the former Slade & Elson mercantile premises in Carbonear. Rorke opened two Labrador branches at St. Francis Harbour and Venison Island to conduct trade with the numerous migratory summer fishermen-floaters (fishermen in schooners) and stationers (crews that fished from shore stations) that went to the Labrador coast each year from Newfoundland; Rorke also became involved in politics, and he was elected as the member for the Carbonear district six times (1863-78). He was a member of Frederick B.T. Carter's pro-confederate slate (1869) and served in the Whiteway administration (1878). Rorke was appointed to the Executive Council in 1879 and remained there until his death in 1896.

Throughout its history, the business remained a family enterprise. Rorke's sons, John and James, joined the firm in 1880, assuming control of the business following the death of their father (1896). By 1920 James Rorke's sons, John and James (grandsons of John Rorke Sr.) had also entered the company. In 1929 the firm was incorporated as John Rorke and Sons Limited.

Although the company remained a family business, its operations changed over the decades. Until 1919, the firm was primarily involved in operating and supplying vessels in the Newfoundland seal hunt and in the Labrador cod fishery although it also engaged in the import-export trade of the island. Between 1839 and 1920, the firm registered 48 vessels in Newfoundland, ranging from 50 to 150 tons. In 1919 the firm began to purchase its supplies ans to sell its fish and other export staples though St. John's mercantile firms. In 1929 the Rorkes established a separate operation known as the Rorke Fish and Coal Company Ltd., which specialized in marketing Labrador cured codfish and fresh and pickled salmon, and selling coal for domestic use. The company also operated a retail general store on Water Street in Carbonear.

In 1980 the company ceased operations and its assets were liquidated in the following year (1981). The Rorke premises, considered among the best preserved examples of mercantile establishments in the province, were donated to the town of Carbonear by the family. In Febraury 1988 the Rorke Stores became Registered Heritage Structures.

Places

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Access points area

Subject access points

Place access points

Occupations

Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Status

Draft

Level of detail

Partial

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created - May 10, 2013

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

Sources

Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC

Related subjects

Related places