WOMEN JOIN THE RANKS OF THE RNC

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

WOMEN JOIN THE RANKS OF THE RNC

December 15, 1980

June Layden, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary

On this day December 15, 1980 the first female members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were sworn in.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) is the oldest police force in Canada, which has roots dating to 1729, and was reorganized in 1871 to become the Newfoundland Constabulary. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the prefix “Royal” on the Newfoundland Constabulary in 1979 in recognition of its proud history in this Province. The present day RNC is Newfoundland and Labrador’s Provincial Police Force. Prior to this Province joining Canadian 1949 the RNC was the National Police Force of the Dominion of Newfoundland.

In that first class was June Layden who  held every rank possible in the RNC’s Street Patrol Division, including constable, media relations officer and platoon commander. On Jan. 22, 2009 she made history when she became the first female RNC officer to become a superintendent.

Photo Credit: The Rooms, Provincial Archives Division: A 12-162, Motorcycle Division [ca 1947

Of the approximately  400 RNC Officers in the province in 2915,  300 were male (74.35%)  and 109 were female (25.65%).

Recommended Web site: http://www.rnchs.ca/   The mission of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Historical Society is to stimulate and encourage the commemoration of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in its customs, traditions and affiliations and to appropriately honour and preserve their legacy for future generations

Recommended Reading:  Kenney, P. & Wentzell, S. (1991) Policing in Newfoundland, in The Newfoundland Quarterly, Vol. LXXXVI, No. 3, April 1991, pp. 42-43.

No place for horned cattle on Water Street

Archival Moment

December, 1914

Credit: The Rooms NA 1558; Note the "Cow catcher" on the frount of the Street Car. Water Street West, St. John's

Credit: The Rooms NA 1558; Note the “Cow catcher” on the frount of the Street Car. Water Street West, St. John’s. Click on the photo to enlarge.

There was a time in the City of St. John’s when it was not unusual to see cows, sheep and pigs wandering the streets. Cows in fact had become such a nuisance that the street cars in St. John’s were equipped with “cow catchers.”

In December 1914 city officials declared that they had enough and decided to try and take control.

In the local media in December 1914 the Municipal Council of St. John’s posted a notice reminding citizens especially farmers that there were regulations that had been on the books since 1903 and that they must be abided. In May 1903 the Municipal Council published in the Royal Gazette regulations that were very specific:

“Horned cattle, sheep or swine shall not be driven through Water Street at any time or under any circumstances except for the purpose of crossing said street, when going too or coming from a waterside premise then the shortest possible distance shall be taken.”

In December 1914 the Municipal Council agreed that the regulation might be too harsh.

“the regulation …. bear harshly upon certain citizens and especially those engaged in procuring the meat supply of the city, thereby causing unnecessary loss, expense and inconvenience to them in their trade and business and a less stringent measure will fully protect the rights and ensure the safety and convenience of all citizens in this respect.”

Credit: The Rooms Archives, VA 14 27.

Credit: The Rooms Archives, VA 14 27. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

The city decided to compromise, no accommodation would be made for sheep and pigs, there was no place for them on Water Street, but the Council decided they would make accommodation for horned cattle.

The primary concern was the “safety and convenience of all citizens” given that Water Street was the commercial heart of the city; it was decided to devise a schedule when cattle could be herded and driven down Water Street. Council proclaimed:

“Horned cattle shall not be driven through the streets of St. John’s in numbers or herds of more than 10, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., from the first day of April until the first day of October, in any year, and from the first day of October until the first day of April, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

The new regulations also demanded when driving herds of 6 to 20 cattle, four competent drovers were required. When driving one single horned cattle the owner or one competent drover had to be present.

As an incentive the Municipal Notice stated if the regulations were not observed a penalty of $25.00 for each offence would be imposed by a Magistrate if convicted.

Recommended Reading: Cows don’t know it’s Sunday: Agricultural life in St. John’s; by Murray, Hilda Chaulk. ISER  Books;    2002

Lost Word:   Drover: The person responsible for moving livestock over long distances by walking them “on the hoof”.

Looks like a good Christmas on the Cape Shore

December 7, 1884

“A derelict schooner, drifted ashore at St. Bride’s … “

As Christmas 1884 approached, the people of St. Bride’s, Placentia Bay, were thinking it would not be a prosperous Christmas.  It had been a poor year in the fishery. Their fortune was however about to change unhappily born on the pain of other families from Placentia Bay.

On  December 7, 1884 residents of St. Bride’s  stood on ‘the bank’ overlooking Placentia Bay  watching as a “a derelict schooner, drifted ashore at St. Bride’s, dismasted and waterlogged…”

There was much excitement in St. Bride’s, it was quickly realized that “Sixty three barrels of flour and six puncheons of molasses” was aboard the vessel.   It was theirs to salvage, they would take it home.

In the days following the salvage effort, St. Bride’s fell silent.  James E. Croucher, the Wreck Commissioner stationed at Great Placentia had arrived in the town on December 10.  He immediately began a search for the cargo of the ill-fated schooner, but to his dismay only found   “24 barrels of flour broken and in a damaged condition, and two puncheons of molasses …”   

Thirty nine (39) barrels of flour and four (4) puncheons of molasses were not accounted for.

Croucher,  as the Wreck Commissioner was obliged by law, under the Consolidated States of Newfoundland to travel to St. Bride’s to investigate the loss of the Schooner, he could only conclude: “the remainder of the property being distributed amongst salvors by a person or parties who had no authority from me to do so.”

As he sailed out of St. Bride’s for Great Placentia the residents of St. Bride’s no doubt celebrated. With their newly acquired abundance of flour and molasses, it would be a good Christmas.

The people of St. Bride’s also mourned, they knew that their gain came at the loss of the crew of the Schooner Stella, a crew of nine men out of nearby Oderin, Placentia Bay.  It is said that she was wrecked in the “terrific gale of November 1884.”

Ever respectful of the dead, it is reported that All the clothes that had belonged to the lost men that had been taken from the Schooner were carefully dried and forwarded to their families.”

What was St. Bride’s Like?

The 1874 census listed a population of 140 in 29 families. Thirteen residents were from Ireland and one from Scotland.  The 79 fishermen had 22 boats. The 13 farmers had 203 cattle, 30 horses, 139 sheep and 113 swine on 200 acres of land.  Products included 60 bushels of oats and 5,460 lbs. 01 butter

By 1891, the population had increased to 256, including four from Ireland. The 66  fishermen-farmers. The community also had a priest, a teacher and a merchant, and 65 of the 122 children were in school.

What about the name?

The name of St. Bride’s is quite modern, and was given from the titular Saint of the Church of St. Bridgett. On more ancient maps it was called La Stress, apparently a French name which became corrupted into Distress. This name “not being of pleasant sound”  to  the new parish priest in Placentia  was superseded by  St. Bride’s (The priest was Rev. Charles Irvine)  

 Recommended Archival Collection:  The Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, holds 70% of the Crew Agreements from 1863-1938, and 80% of the Agreements from 1951-1976. The crew agreements include particulars of each member of the crew, including name (signature), age, place of birth, previous ship, place and date of signing, capacity  and particulars of discharge (end of voyage, desertion, sickness, death, never joined etc). http://www.mun.ca/mha/

Recommended Exhibit: At the Rooms: Here, We Made a Home: At the eastern edge of the continent, bounded by the sea, the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador’s livyers was tied to the fisheries and the North Atlantic. A rich mix of dialects, ways of life, food traditions, story and song developed here. The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4

Knights of Columbus Fire – 99 Dead

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

December 12, 1942 

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: VA 141-3; Identifying victims of the Knights of Columbus] fire a the temporary morgue , St. John’s.

On Saturday, December 12, 1942, many people in St. John’s were sitting at home behind their blackout curtains, listening to “Uncle Tim’s Barn Dance” on the radio station VOCM. This weekly program was broadcast live from the Knights of Columbus Leave Centre (Hostel) on Harvey Road in St. John’s.

Just after 11:00 pm, people listening to the broadcast heard the singer on stage break off in the middle of a song, and then someone shouted “Fire, Fire.”  Sounds of people panicking could be heard, then smashing glass, then the broadcast went silent.

About 500 people were in the building when it caught fire. Most were listening to the radio broadcast, but some were sleeping in the servicemen’s hostel.  The windows in the hall of the newly-built K of C Leave Centre had been boarded over to meet blackout regulations. Doors were either locked, or barred from the outside. The wooden building burned very quickly. Paper streamers that had decorated the ceiling of the hall ignited and fell onto the people below. A few windows and doors were smashed open, but many people could not escape.

As the building rapidly burned to the ground, 99 people died, and another 107 were hurt. St. John’s had seen many serious fires over the years, but never one with such loss of life.

At the time, there were rumours of sabotage by a German agent, but the cause of the fire was never determined.

Residents had reason for concern.  Bell Island (just 20 minutes from St. John’s) is one of the few locations in North America that German forces directly attacked during the Second World War. U-boats raided the island twice in 1942, sinking four ore carriers and killing more than 60 men. On September 5, 1942 the  Germans sunk the  Strathcona and Saganaga. Twenty nine men were killed in the attack. The next attack at Bell Island occurred almost exactly two months later, on November 2, 1942.

The Knights of Columbus Hostel was located on Harvey Road,  a Tim Horton’s franchise  is now standing on the site.  A granite memorial  was placed a little to the east  commemorating those who died in the fire.

Recommended Presentation:  Knights of Columbus Hostel Fire of 1942: A Timeline and Behavioural Assessment; The Rooms: FRIDAY, December 8, 2017 at 7PM. In 1942, the Knights of Columbus hostel in St. John’s burned to the ground with the loss of 99 people. Less than two weeks later, Justice Brian Dunfield was appointed to investigate the blaze, compiling over a thousand pages of testimony. Now, 75 years on, the testimony which is housed in the NL provincial archives remains a vital resource for scholarly activity. It is important that researchers in fire safety learn from such events – both from the point of view of the fire growth and spread, but also the human behaviours witnessed or reported.  The talk will use a vivid graphical representation of the hostel to present a timeline of events, showing how the fire spread throughout the building, where people were located at various key moments in the fire and behaviours reported as the fire developed.  Presenters: Josée Ouellette (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), Rob Brown (Marine Institute, Memorial University), Steve Gwynne (Fire Safety Unit, National Research Council Canada), Aoife Hunt (Movement Strategies, UK)

Recommended Archival Collection:  GN 128 Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Destruction by Fire of the Knights of Columbus Hostel, December 12, 1942In this collection researchers will find  typed transcripts, questionnaires completed by military personnel, commissioner’s notes, statements by civilian witnesses, lists of civilian witnesses, and eight blueprints of the Knights of Columbus Hostel.

Recommended Book: The Last Dance by Darrin McGrath: Flanker Press, St. John’s, 2002.

North West River, Labrador

The Rooms: IGA 14-161 Innu Women at North West River

In 1985 the Provincial Archives acquired the records of the International Grenfell Association (IGA).

The collection consists of 26 photograph albums documenting all aspects of the activities of the International Grenfell Association (IGA) and its predecessor agencies, especially the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen.

The albums include 4,731 photographs. Many of the photographs were taken by Mission staff. The overwhelming majority of the photographs are for the years 1892 to 1940. However, there are also a small number of photographs for the 1880s and the late 1940s.

Take some time to look at just one of these photograph albums featuring North West River, Labrador that were recently put on line by The Rooms.

You can now look at these photographs on line:   http://gencat.eloquent-systems.com/therooms_permalink.html?key=123201

 

The Knights of Columbus Hostel Fire of 1942 Presentation

The Knights of Columbus Hostel Fire of 1942

Where: The Rooms Theatre

When: Friday, Dec 8, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Cost: Included With Admission

In 1942, the Knights of Columbus hostel in St. John’s burned to the ground with the loss of 99 people. Less than two weeks later, Justice Brian Dunfield was appointed to investigate the blaze, compiling over a thousand pages of testimony. Now, 75 years on, the testimony which is housed at The Rooms Provincial Archives remains a vital resource for scholarly activity. It is important that researchers in fire safety learn from such events – both from the point of view of the fire growth and spread but also the human behaviours witnessed or reported. Join Josee Ouelette, (R.C.M.P); Steve Gwynne, (Fire Safety); Rob Brown, Ph. D (Marine Institute, Memorial University and Aoife Hunt, Ph.D. (Managing Consultant at Movement Strategies London, United Kingdom) they use a vivid graphical representation of the hostel to present a timeline of the events, showing how the fire spread throughout the building, where people were located at various key moments in the fire and reported behaviors as the fire developed.

Horses, turned into the roads and woods to die of frost and starvation”

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: NA19658: Horses grazing ina field

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: NA19658: Horses grazing ina field

Archival Moment

November 29,1893

In November 1893 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in the local St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram published an article “enlisting the services of supporters throughout the colony.”

The article read:  “The SPCA desires to enlist the services of its supporters throughout the colony in detecting and punishing cruelty, and, at this season, the practice of exposing old horses and other animals.”   The article stated:  “Worn out horses are often turned into the roads and woods to die of frost and starvation.”

The Executive of the SPCA were keen to stop this cruel practice and insisted that “the crime should be effectually stamped out.”

The SPCA which was established in Newfoundland in November 1888 was originally formed to eradicate this practice and other cruel hardships that the horses had to endure such pulling excessively heavy loads.

The Executive of the SPCA wrote to the readers of the Evening Telegram that “Without the watchful assistance of the public, the efforts of our agents must be of little effect.”

Since their founding in 1888 the SPCA had encouraged laws “wide enough to cover all cases that may arise, and the magistrates never fall in their duty when such cases come before them.”   They proposed however that “While it is the duty of all Justices of the Peace to execute this law upon offenders, it is no less the duty of every citizen to prosecute cases coming to notice.”

In 1893 it was the hope that  “branches of our Society (should be) formed in every outport where a Justice is within reach.”

To assist with establishing societies  outside of St. John’s  “Either Mr. Greene, Q.C. (Hon. Treasurer) or Mr. Johnson, Q.C. (Hon. Secretary)  of the St. John’s Society  will be ready  at all times to assist in the formation of branch Societies an in instructing as to the method of prosecuting offenders.”

Recommended Archival Collection:  At The Rooms Provincial Archives: MG 593 is the SPCA Collection 1912 -1927. It consists of correspondence; complaint books, and investigation reports into complaints of cruelty.

Recommended Song: Tickle Cove Pond. Allan Doyle (Great Big Sea).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SNScBpa4lc

Recommended Web Site:  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – Please support the SPCA on line auction:  http://spcastjohns.org/ Please click on the advertisement line above.