When the Maritimes, Canada, and the rest of North America were being colonized; building cities, nations, and generally progressing similar growth in Newfoundland was almost at a standstill. At first, it was the west-country merchants of England who used their political clout to have the British Parliament bar permanent settlement in Newfoundland. These merchants feared that a growing population would threaten their dominance of the Newfoundland fishery.
After escaping the shackles of the British merchants, a new group stepped in and implemented its own controls over Newfoundlanders, thus stifling progress for another 100 years. These were the Water Street merchants, who controlled the political and economic structures for their own advantage. They developed an economic system that exploited Newfoundlanders and treated them like feudal serfs until 1933, when its economy and political system collapsed.