Women of St. John’s, defend their goats

Archival Moment

July 25, 1914

Photo Credit: The Rooms NA 24116; Teenage boy milking a goat.

Photo Credit: The Rooms NA 24116; Teenage boy milking a goat.

There was a time in Newfoundland and Labrador when most families could lay claim to owning a few farm animals, most families had a horse, a cow, a few goats and hens. They were in most cases essential to the economic survival of the family. In St. John’s, farm animals in an emerging urban environment, in July 1914, were often the source of considerable conflict.

Animals wondering about the town were such a source of tension that the city had on staff an “Impounder” The job title would now be animal control.

John Anderson one of the new City Councilors appointed in 1914 was not impressed that goats were constantly in the small park near the East End Fire Hall destroying trees, he decided to start doing a little investigating. “Where is the impounder, who is he and how much salary does he get? The newly appointed Councillor asked.

Anderson was soon to discover that the “Impounder”   was paid a very respectable $36.50 per month but more interestingly was also entitled to a few bonuses. Anderson discovered that the ‘Impounder’ got an additional $2 for every horse or cow that he impounded but only 50c for a goat.

Anderson concluded because less commission was paid for catching goats “the impounder was directing his attention to the horses and cows that gave him a better income there by allowing goats to roam the city unmolested and destroy what property they liked.

Anderson decided to have a few conversations with the impounder to discover that there were a couple of more issues to consider.   He reported that “he had learned on various occasions from the impounder that it was almost an impossibility to catch a goat” The goats that wandered about the town mulching on the grass in the parks and on private property were quick and agile, it was much easier to catch a horse or cow.

The impounder also reported that another problem that he encountered were the women of St. John’s. The impounder reported ‘when he did succeed in catching a goat, one the women of the neighbourhood would attack him and that in all cases he would have to surrender the goat to the woman.’

Women were quite determined to defend their goats. It was these goats that were often the source of the families’ milk and cheese.

The Council has little sympathy of the impounder, Anderson suggested he was “making a bonanza of it” and that in the future he would have to give a more strict accounting as to how many animals he had impounded.

 The distain and dislike that some had for goats that wandered about the city damaging property especially private property was palatable. In 1855 Thomas MacDonald was dragged before the courts for shooting the goat of his neighbor, James Cochrane. In 1880 William & Albert Hann sued their neighbor Charles D. Chambers for damages done to their property. They later killed the goat.

 Did you know that according to St. John’s Animal Control bylaw (#1514), that you are permitted to have your own goats (ducks and chickens), they all fall under the same bylaw as your friendly neighborhood dog and cat.

Did you know that “animal shelters” evolved from “pounds” , which were used in colonial towns to round up and hold wandering livestock that could be redeemed from the “impounder” for a fee. Because an economic value was placed on these animals, (horses, cows, goats) they were often reclaimed. When the system began to be used to impound wandering dogs and cats, these animals were often killed because little monetary value was placed on them.

Recommended Archival Collection: [Fonds GN 170] Newfoundland and Labrador court records collection. You will find some amusing and not so amusing antics of goats and their flustered neighbours.

Recommended: Support the work of the SPCA. The vision of the SPCA is to prevent animal cruelty; educate about humane treatment of animals; provide shelter and love to abandoned and abused animals; and encourage adoption to suitable homes. Read More: http://spcastjohns.org/index.php

Goats in Song. Have you heard about the the goat in the town of Mobile on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland. Sing along: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APJgbBS-840

A tiff over fashion, what to wear to church on Sunday?

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 23, 1854

What will I wear to mass?

Edward Morris, the Manager of the Newfoundland Savings Bank in St. John’s, Newfoundland in his diary for July 23, 1854 wrote that he had a wee tiff with his wife  (Katherine Howley) it appears she was not happy with him, she was in fact so displeased with him that she refused to go to church with him.

Edward wrote in his dairy:

“Mrs Morris went to 8 o’clock mass at the Cathedral (now Basilica) giving as a reason for going early that she had no decent dress to appear in at a more fashionable hour.”

The 8 o’clock mass tended to be the mass that the kitchen maids, scullery cooks, chamber maids, house maids, sewing maids  and  the other servants attended.  The staff would all  get up early,  attend the mass, and be home before their employers and their families got up.

There was no compromise, Edward insisted that he was going to the regular 10 o’clock mass, he was not concerned about the latest clothing fashions.

Edward was quite pleased that he did attend this particular mass and no doubt delighted in reminding his wife  that  during the celebration he was  witness to a great deal of history.

THE CATHEDRAL BELLS

He wrote:

 Went to mass myself where the Bishop  (Mullock) consecrated two Bells part of the intended chime one the largest dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The other & smaller to St Patrick the Patron Saint of Ireland …The Bishop having consecrated the Bells ascended the pulpit and explained the ceremony.”

A PLACE FOR THE EVANGELISTS

Edward also observed that:

“Today (July 23, 1854) the figures of the four evangelists were all fixed up in their places.”   

The statues of the four evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke andSt. John are located some thirty feet above the floor  of  the Cathedral. These are of Italian workmanship. They are of marble and are slightly larger than life-size. Each evangelist is shown with his appropriate symbol: St. Matthew with a child; St. Mark with a lion; St. Luke with an ox; and St. John with an eagle.

A PLACE FOR THE NUNS

It was not only the evangelists that found their place in the Cathedral on July 23, 1854. Mr. Morris also noted:

“And the nuns (Presentation Sisters)  for the first time occupied the gallery appropriated to them behind the high altar.”

The  gallery is now  situated  behind a grilled window set in the east wall of the apse. From the small room behind this window, the Sisters of the Presentation can participate in the Parish Masses.

Recommenced Reading; Biographical Sketch on Edward Morris:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=39843

Recommended Archival Collection:   At the Archives of the R.C. Archdiocese: The Edward Morris Diaries:  Edward Morris was a businessman, politician, and office-holder; born in 1813 in Waterford (Republic of Ireland), son of Simon Morris. In  1852  Edward married Katherine Howley ofSt  John’s.

Recommended Virtual Exhibit: From Cornerstone to Cathedral- History of the Basilica Cathedral, St. John’s.  http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/basilique-basilica/en/index.html

“Emily, you have not been forgotten …”

ARCHIVAL MOMENTS

“EMILY, YOU HAVE NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN …

July 18, 1912

Emily Day headstone, Forest Road Anglican Cemetery, St. John’s

On the 100th Anniversary of the death of Emily Day (July 18, 2012) a wreath was laid on her grave by a family that remembers the great sacrifice that she made to save the life of a child.

Little is known about Emily Day other than she was a domestic servant working in the community of Tilt Cove on the Baie Verte peninsula for the William Cunningham Family.  William held a number of positions in the community including serving as Justice of the Peace, the telegrapher and customs officer.

On March 11, 1912 an avalanche struck two houses in Tilt Cove built at the head of the cove at the foot of a steep slope, one belonging to Mr. Francis Williams, manager of the Cape Copper Company, and the other belonging to a Mr. William Cunningham.

The Cunningham house was swept off its foundation and Emily Day the family servant was thrown across the kitchen. She had three year-old Edward Cunningham in her arms, protecting him against the weight of the snow. Unfortunately she was buried, jammed against the hot kitchen stove, by the time she was dug out, two hours later, she was very severely burnt. Edward was only slightly injured with minor burns.  Her loving embrace had saved his life.

Emily was sent to the St. John’s General Hospitial  under the care of Dr. Knight where she succumbed to her injuries and died on July 18.  Her act of heroism to save the child garnered her some public attention in the last few months of her life.  The Girl’s Friendly Society (GFS)  an organization of domestic servants in the city were so impressed  that upon her death they commissioned the erection of a  headstone  on her grave in the Anglican Cemetery on Forest Road, St. John’s. It headstone reads:

“Erected by the Girl’s Friendly Society and others  to the memory of Emily Day, aged 29 years who died July 18, 1912 from injuries received  while saving the life of a child in the Tilt Cove Avalanche.  Greater Love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”

The  descendants of the Cunningham’s knew the story about the servant girl – but they never knew her name until  seeing her name in print in an ‘Archival Moments’  posting. ( See  http://archivalmoments.ca/2012/03/killer-avalanche-hits-tilt-cove/

On the 100th Anniversary of her death Judy Powell of Calgary  (her  maternal grandfather,  Cecil Cunningham was 15 at the time of the avalanche, it was his younger brother Edward who was saved)  arranged for a wreath to be placed at the grave to remember, the woman who gave up her life to embrace the life of a child.

 “I just wanted to make a gesture on behalf of our families to show that she is not forgotten, I’ve just never been able to get her out of my mind. This is a small gesture of remembrance from our families. ” Powell said.

Powell never knew her great-uncle, but has an idea how her grandfather would view the wreath-laying.

A card on the wreath read:

 “Emily you have not been forgotten by the family whose child you saved  – Edward Cunningham. Ever remembered by the Cunningham’s, Powell’s, and Goodman’s.

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms Provincial Archives is home  to a number of photographs detailing life in the mining community of  Tilt Cove and images of the avalanche.

Recommended Web Sites: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/environment/avalanches.html

Recommended Reading:  Killer Snow, Avalanches in Newfoundland by David Liverman., Flanker Press,St. John’s, 2007.

 

The young girls and the temptations of St. John’s

ARCHIVAL MOMENT    

July 17, 1883

Girls Friendly Society

Servants should “maintain a high standard of purity.”

Servants should “maintain a high standard of purity.”

On July 17, 1883 an independent chapter of Girls Friendly Society (GFS) was formally established in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The members of the Society were young women in domestic service. The primary goal of the society was to help the young domestic servants working in the big houses in St. John’s arrange recreational activities on their day off.

It appears that the original founders of the society were quite concerned about the young women, with all of the temptations that the city offered. Such was their concern that one of the activities of the individual branches of the GFS was to send members out to meet the new arrivals at the harbor or train station. If required the new arrivals would be offered assistance in obtaining lodging and work.

The GFS under its own constitution was determined that the domestic servants should “maintain a high standard of purity.” They were most determined to keep these young women of the streets and participating in respectable activities. One of the central rules was that “No girl who has not borne a virtuous character to be admitted as a Member; such character being lost, the Member to forfeit her card.”

gfscardThe constitution also stated that the GFS would “obtain for every working girl of unblemished character a friend in a class above her own.”

The Society was originally founded on January 1, 1875 in England. This group was affiliated with the Church of England and run along diocesan lines. The Archbishop of Canterbury was the first patron of the organization later being replaced by Queen Victoria.

A report in 1903 on the activities of the GFS in Newfoundland stated:

“In spite of storm and stress of weather, and long, cold evenings, the Members and Candidates seem to hold on their way with meetings and lectures, sales of work and classes, and their eagerness for books is quite touching.”  

By 1910 the GFS had expanded a report on the Society read:

“In Newfoundland the Society continues its successful work, and the Bishop (Church of England) has keen interest in it. There are four Branches and a large number of Candidates. Quarterly meetings, weekly social meetings, classes, lectures, etc. are held. There is still an energetic Members’ Committee at St. John’s, and the Anniversary is kept on the same day as in England.”

Recommended Reading: History of the Girls’ Friendly Society Compiles by Agnes L. Money. New and Revised Edition, 1911. London Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., LTD. 44 Victoria Street, Westminister, S.W. http://anglicanhistory.org/women/money_gfs1911/

One man’s journey to build the Basilica

Archival Moment

Recommended Tour:  Join Paul Rowe  in  his  special Tour and Play  “Fleming”  One Man’s Journey to Build the Basilica and Unite a Nation.    Time: Tuesday – Saturday  at Noon   from  July 5 – August 27, 2016.  All Welcome:  $12 Admission; $10 Students and Seniors. Cash Only Please. Tickets Available 30 Minutes Before Showing.

Basilica Interior - Rooms Exhibit 016Journey back to 1843 and experience an unforgettable one-man play and guided tour of the Basilica – Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Join Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, interpreted by actor Paul Rowe, as he guides you through the Basilica.

One of the most influential Newfoundlanders of his time, Bishop Fleming is brought to life as you witness his tireless efforts to construct the largest cathedral to date in the New World. As Bishop Fleming recounts the early days of the Basilica, you’ll learn about its social and cultural significance, and about the formative and often turbulent history of the young Colony of Newfoundland.

See how citizens of all faiths came together to construct this National Historic Site as you explore its remarkable halls.

Bishop buried, the legends survive.

July 18, 1850

Basilica 1841

Basilica 1841

On July 18, 1850  Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming who was responsible for building the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now the Basilica)  in the town of St. John’s  was buried in the  crypt of the new Cathedral.

The newspaper of the day reported that an estimated 10,000 people lined to streets to bow their heads in respect as the funeral procession passed through the streets.  Having circled the town, the  procession returned to the Cathedral that was still under construction, where after some concluding prayers, the coffin was enclosed in an oaken shell, lined with lead and interred in the vault under the main altar where it rests to this day.

Fleming’s greatest domestic projects were:

The recruiting of two orders of Irish religious women (the Presentation Congregation and the Sisters of Mercy) to work as teachers.

The construction of the Cathedral (now Basilica) it was the largest building project in 19th century Newfoundland and is now  the definitive icon of Newfoundland Catholicism.

During the winter of 1835 Fleming lived in a fishing room at Petty Harbour, administering smallpox vaccine to the whole community of Catholics and Anglicans, and remaining in quarantine with them when no physician or other clergyman would go there.

Fleming was instrumental in enforcing the Emancipation Act for Irish Catholics in Newfoundland in 1832.

The legend of the ‘Pink, White and Green’

The Pink, White and Green

The Pink, White and Green

In popular “legend”, Fleming is credited with creating the “Pink, white and green” tricolour flag of Newfoundland. It is told that during annual wood hauls for the Anglican cathedral and Roman Catholic cathedral, considerable rivalry developed between the two groups involved. The Protestant English marked their wood piles with the pink flag of the Natives’ Society, while the Catholic Irish used green banners. The threat of violence was such that Bishop Fleming intervened, and persuaded them to adopt a common flag, on which the pink and green would be separated by a white stripe to symbolize peace. The pink symbolized the Tudor Rose of England (The Protestants) and the Green symbolized St. Patrick’s Emblem of Ireland (The Catholics). The White is taken from St. Andrew’s Cross (St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Fishermen and Scotland). This legend, it’s symbolism and origins, have all been disproven by historical evidence. In reality, the Newfoundland “pink, white and green” tricolour didn’t appear until at least 41 years after the inception of the Irish tricolour and was almost certainly based on the Irish flag.

The legend of the Basilica Land

There is “legend’, that the exact amount of land allowed for the basilica cathedral to be built was to be determined by how much land the parishioners could fence in one day. This gave rise to the story that hundreds of Catholics showed up offering help with picks and shovels. In actual fact, the land acreage had been clearly defined in the terms of agreement.

Person of Canadian National Historic Significance

On 9 September 2005, the 150th anniversary of the consecration of Fleming’s cathedral, a plaque was unveiled by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designating Bishop Fleming as a person of Canadian National Historic Significance.

Recommended Reading: Fire Upon the Earth, the Life and Times of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, by J.B. Darcy, C.F.C. Creative Publishers, 2003.

Recommended Archival Collection:   Explore MG 250 at the Rooms Provincial Archives Division. The collection consists of correspondence, speeches and sermons of Bishop Fleming, 1838-1845.

Recommended Tour:  Join Paul Rowe  in  his  special Tour and Play  “Fleming”  One Man’s Journey to Build the Basilica and Unite a Nation.    Time: Tuesday – Saturday  at Noon   from  July 5 – August 27 .   All Welcome:  $12 Admission; $10 Students and Seniors. Cash Only Please. Tickets Available 30 Minutes Before Showing.

 

July and the Weather Saint

Archival Moment

15 July 1881

July 15 Weather Watch

July 15 Weather Watch

St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain’

July month in Newfoundland was the month for the ‘excursionists’.  It was the month when most established organization’s would be in the process of planning excursions ‘around the bay’ for their members. The date on the calendar that the organizers for these excursions were watching was July 15.

July 15 in Newfoundland was traditionally known as St. Swithin’s Day, (or more properly, Swithun) a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin’s Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.

The residents of St. John’s, many of English ancestry were very familiar with the Elizabethan weather-rhyme:

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair

For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

The excursions were holiday outings by coastal vessels to the Newfoundland outports, the most popular being Renews, Placentia and Trinity. Upon arrival in these villages the ‘townies’ would be greeted by the locals where they would be treated to a breakfast “after which the sports of the day would commence.”  Some of the ‘sports’ included horse  races, foot, hurdle and sack and wheelbarrow races, shooting matches and in the evenings dramatic entertainment and lantern shows .

Organizers for the excursions were disappointed to find on July 15, 1881 that it was a wet day.  The local St. John’s paper, The Evening Telegram reported.

“A wet St. Swithen’s Day. Oh, whatever trials are yet in store for excursionists this season.“

Organizers of the excursions were well aware that individuals would be less reluctant to reserve a spot on an excursion if inclement weather was anticipated.

Who was St. Swithin?

St. Swithin (or more properly, Swithun) was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches. A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors with the poor where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971.  According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

This led to the folklore tradition that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

How did the tradition get to Newfoundland?

Beginning in the early 17th century, immigrants from the West of England (mainly from Wessex) began to settle in Newfoundland. By the early 1800s they had founded numerous fishing villages and towns and comprised about 60 percent of the resident population. The Wessex component was the largest ethno-European group to settle Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of these immigrants (80-85%) originated in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset, with notable additions from the adjacent counties of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Cornwall.

Recommended Website: http://www.math.mun.ca/~wessex/wordpress/

Recommended Song:  Billy Bragg,  St. Swithin’s Day:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljJl-E5bzm4

Old English words:  dost = does;  thou = you;  nae mair = no more.