A friend asked me the other day why Newfoundlanders very often used the term by’e when referring to other people. Most CFA’s and indeed many Newfoundlanders assume the term as meaning "boy", but most likely it's related to the The Bye Boat Fishery which emerged in the mid-17th century.
Bye boatmen owned fishing rooms and operated inshore fishing boats in the waters around Newfoundland, but did not live on the Island year round. Many of them resided in England. They traveled Newfoundland on the fishing ships and worked from spring to fall on the Island and were paid fixed wages rather than a share of the profits. Even though they bye boat fisherman never owned anything, and did not share in the overall season’s profit, they were able to supplement their fishing income by finding other employment when they returned to England for the winter. When the men returned for work on the Rock in the spring, they brought over tackle and provisions purchased in England at prices much lower than available in Newfoundland. While many bye boatmen made the annual trek back and forth from Newfoundland to England some remained to look after equipment and property.
It has been suggested that the early byeboat fishermen were likely refered to as "by's" by the other fisherman. A practical term, and likely one used to indicate status in the community as well.
"Who is that man?" - "He's one the by's."
And there you have it!