Mysterious Iceberg off St. John’s

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 24, 1905

“Our Lady of the Fjords”

Mysterious Iceberg in St. John’s Narrows, T.B. Hayward. June 24, 1905

On  June 24, 1905 T.B. Hayward a St. John’s artist and photographer pointed his camera in the direction of a mysterious iceberg off the Narrows of St. John’s, and snapped a picture of what is likely the oldest known photograph believed to be a depiction of a supernatural Christian presence.

The photograph in ques­tion depicts what many people believe is a clear picture of a wondrous iceberg showing the figure of the Virgin Mary in the narrows off St. John’s. How similar to a statue the original iceberg looked is unknown. The photographer (T.B. Hayward) was really a painter of Newfoundland scenes, particularly marine scenes. His method was to photograph a scene and then paint the photograph.

The Catholic Archbishop, in St. John’s, Michael Francis Howley, who saw the iceberg from the steps of the Basilica Cathedral, was so impressed by the extraordinary iceberg that he wrote an article published in The Tablet, the Catholic Diocesan newspaper for Boston describing the iceberg as the “Crystal Lady.”  He also endorsed the sale of postcards and photographs that were produced by Hayward for mass production.

Archbishop Howley perceived the iceberg to be a sacred sign, so moved by the sight that he com­posed a sonnet in honour of the frozen statue entitled “Our Lady of the Fjords.” In the sonnet, he refers to the glistening ice figure as “a shimmering shrine – our bright Atlantic Lourdes. The sonnet was published Newfoundland Quarterly in 1909.

Our Lady of the Fjords

Hail Crystal Virgin, from the frozen fjords
Where far-off Greenland’s gelid glaciers gleen
O’er Oceans bosom soaring, cool, serene
Not famed Carrara’s purest vein affords
Such sparkling brilliance, as mid countless hordes
Of spotless glistning bergs thou reignest Queen
In all the glory of thy opal sheen
A Shimmering Shrine; Our bright Atlantic Lourdes.
We hail thee, dual patront, with acclaim,
Thou standest guardian o er our Island home.
To-day, four cycles since, our rock-bound strand.
First Cabot saw: and gave the Baptist’s name:
To-day we clothe with Pallium from Rome.
The first Archbishop of our Newfoundland!

Contemporary Newfoundland author Wayne Johnson says his father grew up in a house blessed by water from this iceberg, which they called the “Virgin Berg.” Johnson wrote about the iceberg in his book  Baltimore’s Mansion.

The timing of this wondrous iceberg, this Marian apparition appearing in the St. John’s Narrows  was quite  significant.

June 24 on the Christian calendar is the Feast of St. John the Baptist.   On June 24, 1497  John Cabot “discovered”  Newfoundland,  it is the feast day of the patron saint of the R.C. Basilica Cathedral and the Anglican Cathedral  in St. John’s and the namesake for the capital city, St. John’s.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? The Rooms has hundreds of photographs of icebergs. Type “iceberg” in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Reading:   Kodak Catholicism: Miraculous Photography and its Significance by Jessy C. PAGLIAROLI : Canadian Catholic Historical  Association (CCHA) , Historical Studies, 70 (2004), 71_93

Recommended Archival Collection:  Very few photographs of Thomas B. Hayward have been identified.  If you are aware of other photographs and sketches created by Thomas or his father J. W Hayward the  Rooms Provincial Archives Division would love to hear from you.

International Airport Proposed for Trepassey

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 21, 1928

International Airport at Trepassey, Newfoundland

On June 21, 1928 the prestigious New York Times  newspaper declared that Trepassey, Newfoundland would be the site of a great international airport.

The newspaper headline declared:

“Miss Earhart Predicts Great Airport at Trepassey for Transocean Flights.”  

The headline came about as a result of an interview that Amelia Earhart had with the international press shortly after landing at Burry Port, Wales becoming the first woman to make the Atlantic crossing.

Earhart and her crew had departed fromTrepassey, Newfoundland the morning of June 17 landing “across the pond” on June 18.  Prior to departure from Trepassey she has spent twelve days in the town meeting many of the local people.

Earhart told the New York Times reporter:

“Trepassey ought to be some day a great airport for transoceanic travel. It processes the finest harbor, perhaps the only harbor, adapted naturally for seaplane takeoffs in its part of the world.”

But she cautioned that Trepassey needed to develop an infrastructure to sustain this new industry that was emerging.  She told the reporter:

“…there are very few trains from the outside world into Trepassey and absolutely no facilities for taking care of a plane or repairing them. … If someone would build a seaplane station in Trepassey it would be a great help to aviation, for there is going to be more transatlantic flights from there so many that they will not even be of interest to the public.”

Unfortunately for Trepassey no infrastructure was established.

In Newfoundland, the town of Harbour Grace became the airport of choice. The  Harbour Grace airfield, built on the summit of this hill by the  local  people became starting point of many early flights from West to East.  Amelia Earhart  the next time she was in Newfoundland  by passed  Trepassey that she had spoken  so highly about   and completed the world’s first transatlantic solo flight by a woman after taking off from Harbour Grace, on 20 May 1932 and landing at Northern Ireland about 13 hours and 30 minutes later.

Recommended Archival Collection:  (International) George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers:  The Amelia Earhart papers offer a rare glimpse into the life of America’s premier woman aviator. In 1928 she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.  The online collection includes more than 3,500 scans of photographs, maps, documents, and artifacts relating to Earhart.  http://www.lib.purdue.edu/spcol/aearhart/

Recommended Reading: East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart  By Susan Butler.  Da Cappo Press, 2009.  (A chapter is devoted to her time in Trepassey.)

 

First World War Letters

Red-Crossnurse-writes-a-letter-for-an-injured-patient“First World War Letters”  is a documentary that CBC just launched using letters that are found in the Rooms Provincial Archives.

The Rooms holds thousands of pieces of correspondence from the First World War, written by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. They come from the records of the men and women who signed up to serve King and Country at home, in the trenches, on the sea and in the air.

Take some time to watch and listen to their stories. These are the voices of our families. Click on the link below:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/beaumont-hamel-letters-1.3630620

Watch the video then scroll down and  LISTEN to the whole documentary.

 

 

 

Amelia Earhart in Trepassey

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 17, 1928 

Amelia Earhart, June 14, 1928, Trepassey, Newfoundland

As a passenger on the Friendship, (Fokker F7 airplane) Amelia Earhart, the first woman to hop the Atlantic, flew from Trepassey, Newfoundland, to Burry Port, Wales, on June 17, 1928.

The Friendship and crew successfully landed in Newfoundlandon June 5 only to encounter gales or fog for days that prohibited their takeoff forEurope.

Earhart Arrives in Trepassey, June 5, 1928

···· The Friendship circled Trepassey twice before putting down in the choppy water of the harbor after a flight of 4 hours, 24 minutes. As the big monoplane taxied slowly toward the small cluster of houses on the eastern shore that was the town of Trepassey, dories full of men whirling ropes (Amelia called them maritime cowboys), each evidently hoping to guide them in, surrounded the Friendship, …

The town magistrate, Fred Gill, and his two sons, waiting near the monoplane in a dory, secured the honor of giving Amelia and Bill Stultz a ride to the dock. Slim Gordon came later, after tending to the plane.

The children of Trepassey, who had been watching and waiting at the windows of the convent school facing the harbour, ran down to the shore en masse. Amelia “had a vision of many white pinafores and aprons on the dock,” and was under the impression that school had let out early so that the children could greet them. In fact the children had simply fled without permission for which they were made to stay late.  She went up and visited with the children later at the convent school; the nuns were scandalized by the sight of a woman in pants.

One of the Telegrams that was sent to Amelia Earhart in Trepassey from a friend George, knowing that Amelia had not packed a change of clothing wired:

“SUGGEST YOU GO INTO RETIREMENT TEMPORARILY WITH NUNS AND HAVE THEM WASH SHIRT ETC –STOP”

It was arranged that the three fliers would spend the night at a small frame two story house with attached general Store belonging to Richard (Richie Dick)  and Fanny Devereaux …. Mrs  Devereaux too at first sight of Amelia in her “breeks” and boots was “quite overcome, and felt her to be sure I was present in the flesh.”

The Deveraux children,  among them,  a young girl  who was to grow up to be  Sister Theophane Curtis of the Presentation Congregation,  the daughter of Fanny Deveraux from a previous marriage moved from their family home to live with relatives.

DEPARTURE FROM TREPASSEY  – June 17, 1928

The team left Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, in a Fokker F7 on June 17, 1928, and arrived at Burry Port,Wales approximately 21 hours later, a distance of more than 2,010 miles (3,235 kilometers), in 20 hours 49 minutes. With Miss Earhart were Wilbur Stultz, pilot, and Louis Gordon, mechanic.

When the crew returned to the States, they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade inNew Yorkand a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. From then on, flying was the fixture of Earhart’s life.

The experience in Trepassey might have been the inspiration for Earhart in the 1930’s  to design  a line of “functional” women’s clothing, including dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats, initially using her own sewing machine, dress form, and seamstress.  She photographed well and modeled her own designs for promotional spreads.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject?  Type  Aeroplane or Flight in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms Provincial Archives holds a series of photographs (H5 – 32-35)  taken of Amelia Earhart prior to commencing the world’s “first transatlantic solo flight by a woman”. Earhart took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland  on 20 May 1932 and landed in Northern Ireland about 13 hours and 30 minutes later.

Recommended Reading: Earhart, Amelia. 1928. 20 Hrs., 40 min.: Our Flight in the Friendship. G.P. Putnam’s Sons:New York. (Reprinted in 2003 by National Geographic Adventure Classics:Washington.)

Recommended Website:  The official Website of Amelia Earhart:  http://www.ameliaearhart.com/

Newfoundland Nurse: Letter from the trenches

Archival Moments

June 13, 1915

Newfoundland Nurse: Letter from the trenches

nurseOn June 13, 1915 Maysie Parsons, 26 years old, originally from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland wrote to her father Edward Parsons from L’Hopital de L’Ocean, a field hospital in La Panne, Belgium. In her letter she wrote frankly about war and what she was witnessing. She wrote:

“My Dear Father

Although we are only six miles from the trenches, we never hear any war news. The only thing we do know is when there is a battle on this end. We can hear the guns and see the flashes and lightening, and tonight, oh, it is simply terrible. It is just the same as thunder and lightning and to think that every flash means so many deaths!

It is horrible. We do get terrible cases in. I know if you saw the poor patients, you would wonder how they could possibly live. It is impossible to sleep lots of nights.

War certainly is HELL

Tonight I am writing by the light of candle. We can’t get any sleep. And have been watching the flashes off the guns, etc., all along the lines for hours. It really seems that the fighting is all around us. I am glad I came but it certainly seems strange.

Wherever we go we very seldom meet anybody that can speak a word of English, and then if we go for a walk about every few yards we are held up by a sentry and have to produce our passports.”

Maysie was frustrated that she could not speak the language of the soldier boys that she was treating. When war broke out, Belgium did not have enough nurses so were dependent on nurses sent from British Commonwealth countries including Canada and Newfoundland. Masie signed up with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. She wrote:

We get a lot of cases in here that only live a few hours. It seems terrible, they have not a person belonging to them, and I wish I could speak French. It is certainly hard to nurse every sick patient when you have to guess at what they want, and then not to be able to speak to them. Kindly and sympathize with them. I think a kind word often means a lot.

Maysie was also conscious that all of her letters would be read by censors and was careful not to disclose details that would result in her letter being delayed and or not delivered.

Yesterday we had quite a lot of patients come in, 61. I could write for hours about how thy have been treated, but you see, our letters are censored, and there are lots of interesting things we cannot tell.

Like other letters that were sent by sons and daughters from the trenches of Europe to parents back home in Newfoundland the letters would always make reference to other Newfoundlanders that they had encountered, their Newfoundland patriotic fervor was always evident.

The other day a man came and asked me what part of Canada I as from, so I told him not Canada, but Newfoundland, he told me he knew Sir Edward P. Morris quite well, and how he had to study up about the fisheries, for the Convention of the Hague. He was asking me about Newfoundland, and afterwards I found out he was the Editor of the London Times.

We found an English newspaper today, and you should see the bunch get around it, it was about a month old, but we read everything in it, even the advertisements. It was good to see something in English.

I sent some cards home, hope they get them.

Love too all,

From your Loving daughter

Maysie

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Take a look at some of the  photographs  of the interior of Government House –  100 years ago – Pindikowsky  is responsible for the ceilings. Type  Great War Photograph  Collection  in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Exhibit: Pleasantville: From Recreation to Military Installation. Level 2 Atrium, The Rooms. Pleasantville before the First World War was the site of the St. John’s cricket grounds. With the declaration of war, Pleasantville quickly emerged as a tent city, the home of the storied “First 500”. It was here that the First Newfoundland Regiment recruits began preliminary military training during the months of September and October of 1914. This exhibition highlights some of the activities and training of the Blue Puttees up to their embarkation on the SS Florizel for overseas service.

Art, Forgery and Prison Romance

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 15, 1880

Hall Ceiling Painted by Pindkowsky, Government House

On June 17, 1880, the Carbonear Herald a local Newfoundland newspaper reported on the conviction of  Alexander Pindikowsky, a young artist and fresco painter, convicted for forgery. He was sentenced on June 15, 1880 to fifteen months at her Majesty’s Penitentiary.

The St. John’s newspaper, The Royal Gazette reported:

 “Pindinkowsky was ordered within five days of his release to quit the country (Newfoundland) for life, in default of which, on his return to the country at any time, he is to receive further imprisonment.”

Pindikowsky  (also Pindikowskie) arrived in Newfoundland in 1879 as a professional artist and fresco painter. He was hired by the Anglo American Telegraph Company to give art instruction to interested employees and their wives at Hearts Content Cable Office.

He was arrested on March 10, 1880 and charged with attempting forge two cheques in the name of E. Weedon, Esq. of Hearts Content, Trinity Bay.

The Polish artist’s talents as a fresco painter were brought to the attention of the authorities at the Penitentiary and they were soon put to official use, in return for a remission of five weeks on his sentence. He was set to work designing and painting frescos, to relieve the drabness of the state rooms of Government House.

Governor John Hawley Glover (1876-1885) was so delighted with the frescos that he suggested to Prime Minister William Whiteway that the prisoner Pindinkowsky also decorate the ceilings of the two legislative chambers of the Colonial Building.  Seeing an opportunity the Presentation Sisters at Cathedral Square in St. John’s who were in the process of working on their chapel and drawing room invited the talents of the young artist.

Each day Pindinowsky was brought from the penitentiary to his place of work until the frescos were complete.

It could be said that this is one of the first documented cases of  a prison rehabilitation program in Newfoundland and Labrador.

ROMANCE IN GOVERNMENT HOUSE

Researcher and historian, John O’Mara in his research on Government House in St. John’s discovered that Pindikowsky was also a romantic. In his research he discovered the face of a woman subtly painted into the ceiling of government house.  Some believe her to be one of the maids at government house.  She could possibly be Ellen Dormody the mother of Pindikowsky’s first child, Johanna Mary Ellen Pindikowskie, who was baptized at the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) on May 1, 1882.

It is clear that Pindikowsky banishment from the country was withdrawn, he decided to stay in Newfoundland. In 1882 he was advertising his services in a local newspaper, as a fresco painter.

The Athenaeum, established in 1879 with it’s 1,000 seat theatre, that was central to much of the musical activity of the city hired him. He painted some very fine murals on the interior walls of the building. Unfortunately the theatre and his work were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1892.

Pindikowsky left St. John’s for the ‘Boston States’ in approximately 1882  followed a year later by Ellen Dormody. She is recorded as travelling from St. John’s to Boston on the SS Colan (or Coban) in 1883.

Life in Boston was unsettled they fist settled in Malden, Mass in 1885 where he is listed in the city directory as a painter then Brockton, Mass, in the city directories of 1887, 1888 and 1889, back to Malden for 1890, then in Newport, RI where he was listed in the city directory as a painter in 1897 and later back in Brockton, Mass.

It appears that he died between 1887 -1906.  His wife is listed in the  Brockton city directory as a nurse and a widow in 1906.

Ellen Dormody the wife of Pindikowsky would have felt very at home in the Boston area. The Commonwealth of Boston census for 1885 reports that 2851 Newfoundlanders had settled in the city and surrounding towns. That number had grown to 7,591 Newfoundlanders by 1895.  The census for Boston in 1915 reports that 13,269 residents of the Boston area claimed Newfoundland  as their place of birth.

The ‘Boston States’ and  Newfoundland  have many connections.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Take a look at some of the  photographs  of the interior of Government House –  100 years ago – Pindikowsky  is responsible for the ceilings. Type  Government House Interior in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Website:  http://www.heritage.nf.ca/govhouse/govhouse/tour2.html

Recommended VisitTo see the work of Alexander Pindikowsky both Government House and Presentation Convent are available to the public by appointment.  The Colonial Building is undergoing extensive renovations and is closed.

 

12,000 residents of St. John’s homeless

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 9, 1846

St. John’s previous to the fire of June 9, 1846

The origin of the fire, which broke out on  June 9, 1846, in St. John’s, has generally been attributed to the carelessness of a cabinet maker who lived on George Street.

By 7:00 p.m., when the fire had finally run its course, over 2,000 buildings had been burned and about 12,000 people, or 57 per cent of the town’s total population, left homeless. The total amount of property loss was estimated at £888,356.   Altogether, there were three casualties: one soldier died as a result of the demolition ordered on Water Street; one citizen collapsed while attempting to carry his possessions to safety; and one prisoner died in his cell when the gaol burnt. A few days after, two labourers clearing away ruins were killed by a falling wall.

Homeless Seek Shelter

On June 10, 1846 many of the 12,000 refugees from the fire could be found in make shift tents in this neighborhood (Fort Townsend) now the site of The Rooms. Others found shelter on the grounds of the new R.C. Cathedral (now Basilica) that was under construction, others in the area now called Bannerman Park on Military Road.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  Fire   in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Reading: The Great St. John’s Fire of 1846 by Melvin Baker (c)1983 Originally published in the Newfoundland Quarterly, vol. LXXIX, no. 1 (Summer 1983) http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~melbaker/1846fire.htm

Recommended Archival Collection at the Provincial Archives in the Rooms:  MG 50.2:  Map of St. John’s, Newfoundland, showing all the buildings erected since the fire of the 9th of June 1846 from actual survey (MG 50.2)