William Coaker

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William Ford Coaker
William Coaker.jpg
Born October 19, 1871
Died October 26, 1938
Occupation union leader, politician
Known for Uniting the rural fishermen of Newfoundland and founding the Fishermen's Protective Union

Sir William Ford Coaker (October 19, 1871 – October 26, 1938) was a Newfoundland union leader and politician and founder of the Fisherman's Protective Union and the Fishermen's Union Trading Co.

Coaker was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and educated at Bishop Feild College. After graduating he worked as an agent for a fish merchant before becoming a farmer in Green Bay.

He organized the first local of the FPU co-operative in 1908 and led it as it expanded into a multifaceted interest involved in trading, publishing, light and power, shipbuilding, shipping and cold storage.

He took the FPU into politics in 1912 and Coaker was elected to the Newfoundland House of Assembly in the 1913 general election where he remained until 1924. He served in cabinet during World War I and from 1919 until 1924 when he was minister of marine and fisheries.

In 1923, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1999, a novel loosely based on his life was written by Gordon Rodgers.

There is both a poem and song written referencing Coaker. The original anthem of the Fishers Protective Union was titled "We are coming Mr. Coaker, and we're 40 thousand strong". This anthem was sung or chanted at FPU meetings to show support for Coaker and his movement to unite the fishermen.[1] There is also a poem titled "Coaker's Dream".[2]

The former high school on New World Island, Coaker Academy, was named after Coaker.[3] The school located in Virgin Arm, Newfoundland was closed in 2005 in favor of the islands new school, New World Island Academy, and has since been destroyed due to asbestos.

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