The Ocean Ranger: No further radio communications

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

Photo Credit:

The Rooms Provincial Archives : A-41-36; Ocean Ranger, Lost February 15, 1982

On February 15, 1982 at 0052 hours local time, a MAYDAY call was sent out from the Ocean Ranger, noting a severe list to the port side of the rig and requesting immediate assistance. This was the first communication from the Ocean Ranger identifying a major problem.

At 0130 hours local time, the Ocean Ranger transmitted its last message:

 ‘There will be no further radio communications from the Ocean Ranger. We are going to lifeboat stations’.

Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night and in the midst of atrocious winter weather, the crew abandoned the rig.

All 84 crewmembers died.  56 were Newfoundlanders. Over the next four days search teams were only able to recover 22 bodies, 2 lifeboats, and 6 life rafts.

Families across Newfoundland and Labrador,  struggled to cope with the loss. In every community in the province in every church, in every school people gathered to find comfort.  At a crowded ecumenical service at the historic Basilica  Cathedral  in St. John’s, friends and relatives attended a memorial service to pay tribute and to search for answers.  The Catholic Archbishop of the province surrounded by clergy from all churches used the occasion to call on both the federal and provincial governments to establish “a joint enquiry into the terrible accident”.

Recommended Archival Collection: Two new ‘Ocean Ranger” collections are now held at The Rooms.  The David Boutcher Collection features photographs taken by David on the Ocean Ranger in 1982.  Many of the photographs feature friends and fellow crew members.  David died on the Ocean Ranger.   Also available is the Lloyd Major Collection, Lloyd was a medic on the Ocean Ranger, his 52 photographs feature individuals who worked on “The Rig”  and structural features of The Rig.

Note: Many of the individuals in these photographs have not been identified and we would welcome the assistance  of families and friends  of the victims to help us in this process

Recommended Book (Fiction): Moore, Lisa .  February. House of Anansi Press (2010).  February is a fictional exploration of the impact on one family of the 1982 sinking of the oil rig Ocean Ranger.

Recommended Book: (Non Fiction):  Heffernan, Mike (2009). Rig: An Oral History of the Ocean Ranger Disaster, Creative Publishers, St. John’s.  This is an illustrated collection of first-person accounts from former rig workers, victims’ families, government officials, media, and search and rescue crews.

Website: Royal Commission on the Ocean Ranger Marine Disaster: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/or_response.html

 

The Insulting “Vinegar Valentine” Card

February 14, 1938

Photo Credit: The Rooms, St. John’s, NL GN/13/1B

It was Valentine’s Day 1938 and as she did every morning Mrs. Hannah Kelly on Colonial Street, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador picked up the mail and was most excited to find that  she had four Valentine’s cards,  no doubt she thought from admiring friends and neighbours!  But on closer inspection her mood changed, she was furious! She had been delivered four Vinegar Valentine Cards!

The “Vinegar Valentine”, also called “comic valentines,” were unwelcome notes  sometimes insensitive and always  somewhat emotionally harmful.

Vinegar valentines were commercially purchased containing an insulting poem and illustration. They were sent anonymously, so the receiver had to guess who disliked  him or her; they were often vulgar and even rude.

The vinegar cards that were delivered to 50 Colonial Street, St. John’s were very harsh.

One suggested that Mrs. Kelly was a snooper:

“Everyone knows that you’re a snooper
You snoop the whole day through
If you could hear what people are saying
You’d get their opinion of you.

Photo Credit: The Rooms, St. John’s, NL GN/13/1B

Another suggested that she was a gossip:

“If someone would only cut out your tongue,
So full of venom and guile,
Most happily would the world be freed
From a plague of nuisance and vile”

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: The Rooms; St. John’s, NL GN/13/1B

Another suggested that she was “An old sow” that she was a pig!!

“You’re easy and greasy, like a hog in a pen.
But a mountain of flesh is not courted by men.
You’re as rough as a file, and as course as can be,
Like some barbarous maid from the isle of Feegee”

 

 

 

Photo Credit: The Rooms. St. John’s, NL GN/13/1B

Another suggested that she was not a pretty woman in fact the sender of the vinegar card commented that she had a big chin.

Horrible, horrible is the din
When a woman has too much shin!
Oh you annoying tiresome pest.
Do give us pray a little rest!!

 

 

 

Photo Credit: The Rooms, St. John’s, NL : E 1-38; Chief Patrick J. O’Neill, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary

THIS IS A MATTER FOR THEPOLICE

Mrs. Kelly could barely contain her anger; she was not going to be quiet about these insulting vinegar cards! So on a day that should be reserved for matters of love and comfort she immediately called the Chief of Police , P.J. O’Neill.  She followed the phone call with a letter that she sent to his office  (February 15) claiming that she was being  “persecuted”  by her neighbours and that an investigation should be started.

She also suggested that the four “vinegar cards “   that she enclosed in the envelope to him should be analyzed   and that a comparison of the handwriting on the cards should be  made with the handwriting of a few of her neighbours.  She also stated  that  the “leader of the gang” that were persecuting her was  Mable Crocker on 4 College Square  and other neighbours on Colonial and College Streets.

The Chief of Police sent out his detective Constable Reginald Noseworthy to investigate the matter. He obtained the handwriting from five households of those that were alleged to be part of the gang.  A number of individual having consulted with their lawyers refused to give a sample.

On February 23, 1938,   Detective Noseworthy  reported  to the Chief of Police that he was not able to find the culprits – but  was convinced that Mrs.  Kelly was not liked by her neighbours; no one had a good word for her.   He also suggested “she might have sent the Valentines to herself , so that she could have this as a pretext of having a Police Constable call on her neighbours doors, as she is well aware this would cause them some annoyance.”

The vinegar valentines were very popular in Newfoundland the 1930’s  and in in some locations in the country until the 1970’s they were still selling well.

These days, it is much less likely we’ll get a horrid note in the mail as a Valentine’s surprise.

 Recommended Archival Collection:  At The Rooms, GN 13/1/B  Box 417 Subject file  K27. Newfoundland Constabulary, Criminal Investigation Bureau

From your Valentine. Did you see a bird or speak or hear a name?

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

FEBRUARY 14

St. Valentine

The true origin of Valentine’s Day may always be in question, but most historians seem to agree on the basic elements. St. Valentine, as he has become known, was a  priest in Rome during the times of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius, who was known in his times as “Claudius the Cruel” had decreed that his soldiers were no longer allowed to marry. It was Claudius’s belief that single, men without families were the best soldiers.

Valentine found this law absurd and went against the law, marrying couples in secret. This was soon discovered by Claudius II and Valentine was taken to prison and ordered beheaded. It is said that in his final days in prison, Valentine wrote a letter to his jail keepers daughter who had been visiting him during his imprisonment. He signed the letter, “From your Valentine”. This is what is now thought of as the first Valentine card.

St. Valentine is said to have died on February 14th and this is why we celebrate the holiday on this day.

The Saint Valentine who is celebrated on February 14 remains in the Catholic Church’s official list of saints (the Roman Martyrology), but, in view of the scarcity of information about him,  he has been demoted  – his commemoration was removed from the General Calendar for universal liturgical veneration, when this was revised in 1969.

Photo Credit: The Rooms; VA 59-46 Scottish Soldier and his lover

 

Many traditions have evolved around St. Valentine’s Day. The first name you hear on Valentines Day?

If a woman sees a robyn flying over head on Valentines Day she will marry a sailor. If she sees a sparrow, she will marry a poor man, but will be very happy. If she sees a goldfinch, she will marry a millionaire.

• The 1st name you hear or read on Valentine’s Day will be the name of your future mate.

 

 

A romantic place in Newfoundland?

Examples of postmarks/ stamp cancellations from two communities in Newfoundland-Labrador: Cupids and Heart’s Content © Canada Post

If you are looking for a romantic place to go on this special day you have no shortage of suggested places that cry romantic.  There are the sentimental settlements, Heart’s Delight, Heart’s Content, Heart’s Desire and Cupids and we have Valentine Lake nearby to Annieopsquotch Mountains in Central Newfoundland!

 

 

Whether we chose to believe legends developed around Valentines Day or not most of us are true romantics at heart.  This is the day to remember those that you care about!!

 

Dream about your Valentine

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

FEBRUARY 13

“BAY LEAVES UNDER YOUR PILLOW”

Bay Leaf Heart

Bay Leaf Heart

Many traditions have evolved around St. Valentine’s Day.  One that is particular to the Eve of St. Valentine involves the bay leaf.

Bay leaves have been used to help determine ones future mate.

The practice has been to place a few bay leaves inside of a small cotton bag, preferably red in color. Place this herb bag under your pillow on Valentine’s Day Eve.

Part of the tradition requires that a love charm be recited prior to going to bed for the evening:

“Good Valentine, be kind to me, in dreams let me my true love see.”

Performing this love spell is supposed to cause you to dream about the person that you will eventually marry.

The bay leaf was held in such high esteem that victors of battle, sport and study were crowned with garlands of laurel, as a symbol of their success. This is where the term “baccalaureate” originates from and it is now referred to when students have successfully completed their schooling years. The word “baccalaureate,” alludes to the bay wreathes worn by poets and scholars when they received academic honors in ancient Greece.

Just check the spice rack to see if you have any bay leaves in the house.

Sleep well.

 “Good Valentine, be kind to me, in dreams let me – my true love see.” 

Firing guns at weddings

Archival Moment

February 10, 1882

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 104-22.1; Royal salute or feu de joie for a wedding party at Harrington Harbour. International Grenfell Association photograph collection. Note the men with the guns in the background.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 104-22.1; Royal salute or feu de joie for a wedding party at Harrington Harbour. International Grenfell Association photograph collection. Note the men with the guns in the background.

There is a long established tradition in Newfoundland that encourages the “discharging of fire arms” for the purpose of creating a noise especially to celebrate a marriage. As the bride and groom leave the church the men of the town stand about discharging their guns in celebration.

On February 10, 1882 the Editor of the local paper the Twillingate Sun, Jabez P. THOMPSON, spoke out against the custom suggesting that rather than discharging their guns, pistols and firearms that they would be better served to buy present for the newly married. He wrote:

“It has been suggested that if persons are anxious to manifest esteem for their newly married friends, could it not be done in a more tangible way by presenting them with a valuable present, which the cost of the powder so used would be likely to procure. We would recommend such a plan.”

Francis BERTEAU, Stipendiary Magistrate in Twillingate was another who was not fan of discharging guns at weddings. The Magistrates objection was prompted by the fact that a case was before him in his court, a short time before, the cause of the complaint being that the plaintiff’s horse had taken fright by the firing of guns while passing the public streets.

The Editor argued:

“Magistrate BERTEAU has given caution against the unnecessary discharging of fire arms, as prevention to any serious accident that might accrue by a persistency in such a dangerous practice.”

The government of the day was also keen to stop the practice, in January 1882 a new law was passed that read:

“Any person firing any Gun, Pistol or other Fire-arms in any City, Town, or Settlement in this Island for the purpose of creating a noise or disturbance, or without some necessity or reasonable excuse for so doing, shall for every such offence pay a penalty not exceeding Twenty Dollars.”

The new law was to fall on deaf ears; the tradition of firing guns at weddings continued and remains a tradition in many communities throughout the province. Those who fired the guns always found “some necessity or reasonable excuse.”

The tradition of ‘firing the guns’ at a wedding continues in communities long the Cape Shore. Do you know of other communities?

The ‘firing of the guns’ is not to be confused with a ‘gunshot wedding’!

Recommended Archival Collection: Planning on doing some family research. The Rooms Provincial Archives is home to the largest collection of Parish Marriage Registers in the province.

Recommended Reading: Getting Married in Newfoundland and Labrador: http://www.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/birth/getting_married/

 

 

Welcome home Tommy Ricketts

Newspapers of the day wrote that the crowd that gathered along downtown streets in St. John’s 100 years ago today to welcome home a young and humble Sgt. Tommy Ricketts from the First World War had not been seen up to that time.  Read More:

Thomas Ricketts,VC(1901-1967)

https://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/tommy-ricketts-arrived-home-in-st-johns-to-cheers-100-years-ago-today-282628/

 

 

 

If Candlemas Day be sunny and bright …

ARCHIVAL MOMENT 

February 2, 1871 

Febryary 2 is Candlemas Day - Blessing of the candles that are used during he year.

February 2 is Candlemas Day – Blessing of the candles that are used during the year.

 

Some of the best insights into the history of families and communities in this province can be garnered from the pages of the hundreds of diaries that have been deposited into archives in the province. In the diaries of Edward Morris, Mr. Morris observed on February 2, 1871.

Fine morning, light frost, wind from the north, north west. Streets frozen again but no cold such as we have had. The day fine enough but the walking very rough.  Attended at the Cathedral in the morning at the ceremonies of Candlemas Day ….”

February 2 is “Candlemas”  Day.

The ceremony of Candlemas Day, a ritual celebrated throughout the Christian world that Mr. Morris observed was the blessing of the annual supply of the Church’s candles.  Beeswax candles were blessed by being sprinkled with holy water and having incense swung around them, and then the candles distributed to everyone in the church. Then there was a procession in which people carried lighted candles while the choir sang. The procession represents the entry of Jesus as light of the world into the temple.

In Newfoundland there is an established tradition that on this day a blessed candle would be lit and the mother of the household would bless the children in the home with the candle.  The wax was allowed to drip on the head (hat) and shoulders and on the shoes of the children.

Every fishing boat would also have a blessed candle. These candles would be taken out and lit during a gale or storm.

WINTER IS HALF OVER

This day also used to have great significance on the calendar, because the date lies half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so it marks the day upon which winter is half over!  As Candlemas traditions evolved, many people embraced the legend that if the sun shone on the second day of February, an animal would see its shadow and there would be at least six more weeks of winter.

You may know the rhyme:

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright,Winter again will show its might. If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey, Winter soon will pass away. (Fox version)

If Candlemas day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight. If Candlemas day be shower and rain, Winter is gone and will not come again. (Traditional)

“If Candlemas Day is gloomy & Glum the worst of winter is left to come.
If Candlemas day is fair & fine the worst of winter is left behind.”

Branch, St. Mary’s Bay

In Branch, St. Mary’s Bay an expression that is particular to Candlemas Day was the expression:

Half your prog and half your hay,
Eat your supper by the light of the day.

The expression calls on families, now that we are half way through winter, to take stock of their (prog)  food supplies in their root cellars and feed for the animals (hay).  Just to insure  that there is enough to get you through the rest of the winter.

It is amusing that our issues back on February 2, 1871 are much the same.  Morris when writing in his diary about Candlemas –  he  also wrote:  “The day fine enough but the walking very rough.”  

To this very day people still comment that walking about St. John’s is very rough.

INVITATION
Please join the board of the Victoria Park Foundation  on Saturday, February 9, 2019 from 4pm -6pm with our honorary Chair Mark Critch for an evening of sledding in the historic  Victoria Park.

 

Recommended Archival Collection:   Edward Morris Diaries 1851-1887. Edward Morris was a businessman, politician, and office-holder; born in 1813 at Waterford (Republic of Ireland). He moved to St John’s, Newfoundland in 1832.  On January 1, 1851 he began to keep a daily diary that he continued until his death on 3 April 1887.

Canadian fish sent to England, an opportunity for Newfoundland

Archival Moment

January 29, 1915

Fish PosterIn the early days of the First World War, Newfoundland businessmen began to look for opportunities, especially opportunities to expand the fish trade.

With the declaration of war in 1914 the North Sea, the traditional fishing ground for England was closed. The local papers reported:

“The North Sea fishing fleet has been badly hampered and almost put out of action this season through the menace of mines and the result has been a serious depletion of the fish supply so large a part of the food of the British people.”

The famine assumed such dimensions that Cardinal Francis Bourne, the leader of the Catholic Church in England, granted a dispensation to the Catholics of England allowing they may eat meat on Fridays and Fast Days, the Cardinal explained that the step was necessary because of the high price of fish.

The first group to respond to the famine being experienced in England was the fish merchants of the Pacific Coast of Canada. The Canadians were well placed strategically because just months previous the grand trunk Pacific Transcontinental Railway line had been completed allowing fish from Prince Rupert, British Columbia access to markets in Eastern Canada and the United States.

In an experiment to help feed the British three Canadian express refrigerator cars carrying thirty tons of halibut taken from the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Prince Rupert passed through the city of St.  John, New Brunswick, where the fish was then shipped by the steamship to the British market. The fish would be carried over 6,500 miles before it reaches the consumer.

The Evening Telegram in St. John’s reported:

“ A trial shipment of 20,000 pounds of halibut proved to be successful, when opened in England it was found to be in first class condition leading to the placing of other large orders. “

Newfoundland fish merchants, aware that “large orders” for fish were being demanded by the British people, saw an opportunity. They knew immediately, “that great development in this new trade will continue till the end of the war.”

The new trade resulted in an economic boom, wartime conditions kept prices high, and Newfoundland merchants continued to supply their traditional markets in Europe, the Mediterranean, Brazil and the Caribbean. The boom lasted until 1920.

Recommended Archival Collection:  The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories.   https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/now/beaumont-hamel-and-the-trail-of-the-caribou

 

 

 

 

 

Sledding with Mark Critch in Victoria Park ? Come out for the laugh!

Archival Moment

City outlaws crazy carpets and flying saucers.

City outlaws crazy carpets and flying saucers. Click on image to enlarge to read all of the regulations.

Signage declaring new regulations about sliding on the hills in St. John’s has been posted in public places throughout the city. The signage declares a whole raft of rules about what can and cannot be done when snow sledding.

Some think that this is a new  conversation, but the reality is that regulations about snow sliding or sledding in St. John’s started more than 100 years ago.

In 1916 “skating or sliding down the hills” was on the agenda of Newfoundland legislators, so much so  that the lawmakers opted to pass legislation about sliding.

In Chapter 51 of the Consolidated Acts, 1916 under the chapter title “Of Nuisances and Municipal Regulations” Section 14 the Act reads:

“The stipendiary magistrate may make regulations for preventing persons from coasting, skating or sliding down the hills or highways or streets …”

The focus of the legislation in 1916 was on the  “… skating or sliding down the hills or highways or streets…”  

There was a time when citizens of all ages loved nothing more than grabbing their sleigh for a ride down of the steep hills of the city.

The practice was however quite dangerous. The local newspapers reported on an almost daily basis about individuals being injured on the hills of the town.

On January 14, 1916 the Evening Telegram reported:

“Boy Injured while sliding over Prescott Street”  Yesterday after noon,  newsboy met with a painful accident. He collided with another sled resulting in a deep wound being inflicted in his leg. The injured youth was brought to a nearby drug store for treatment and was later conveyed home and attended by a doctor. “

On February 18, 1916 under the headline “Dangerous practice the sliding of children” the Telegram reported:

“The sliding of children on the city heights is a very dangerous practice particularly on those hills near the street car rails. This morning two children of Hutching’s Street narrowly escaped being killed by a passing street car. The sled on which the youngsters were seated passing in front of the car’s fender by a couple of feet. “

The new signage posted on St. John’s hills and parks  (including Victoria Park) owned by the city comes after the city of St. John’s had to review  its liability in the wake of the city of Hamilton, Ontario being sued following an injury at a popular sledding hill . The City of Sudbury, Ontario in response to the same lawsuit responded by fencing off a sliding hill and banning tobogganing on public land outright.

Almost 100 years following the initial conversation about snow sliding on the hills of St. John’s the conversation continues. The warning signs in Victoria Park read no  “crazy carpets and flying saucers.”

GET OFF  THE CITY  STREETS AND MAKE YOUR WAY TO VICTORIA PARK

Please join the board of the Victoria Park Foundation  on February 9, 2019 from 4pm -6pm with our honorary Chair Mark Critch for an early evening of sledding in this historic park.

Learn more about  the revitalization of the Park that began in the Fall of 2016. Phase 1 included a  number of improvements including and the illumination of the Sliding Hill. 

There is during the sledding event  the promise of hot chocolate for all and prizes for some activities that are planned.

Credit: The Rooms E 34-11 Water St and Victoria Park

Learn more about Victoria Park, St. John’s:   https://victoriaparknl.ca/

For more information contact:
Coordinator, VP Foundation Inc
Phone: (709) 576-2309
Cell: (709) 687-4341
www.victoriaparknl.ca
https://m.facebook.com/VPRenewal/
twitter: @VictoriaParkNL1

 

An Irish soldier and his socks knit by an aged Newfoundland woman

Archival Moment

January 26, 1916

Knitting comforts. (Click on to enlarge)

Knitting comforts.
(Click on to enlarge)

During the First World War women in kitchens and parlors in homes throughout Newfoundland and Labrador were enthusiastically knitting goods, especially socks for the men who had signed up to fight for King and Country. Many of these women were members of the Woman’s Patriotic Association (W.P.A.) an organization of more than 15,000 women from throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is estimated that between 1914 and 1916, the ladies at Government House and from throughout the towns of the colony of Newfoundland produced 62,685 pairs of socks, 8,984 pairs of cuffs (mittens with a trigger finger), and 22,422 mufflers. These items were often referred to as “comforts.”

The socks that were knit were intended primarily for the men of the Newfoundland Regiment but there is evidence that soldiers from other countries including some from Ireland were the beneficiaries of the woolen socks.

In January of 1916 Mrs. Margret Morris of Long’ Hill, St. John’s was thrilled to receive a letter from an Irish Soldier thanking her for socks which he received ‘Somewhere in France’ and found to have been knitted by her. The 85 year old Mrs. Morris was so delighted with the letter of thanks that she strolled down to the offices of the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram to have her story published.

The newspaper reported:

Mrs. Margaret Morris an old lady of 85 years has received a letter from an Irish soldier thanking her for socks which he received and found to have been knitted by her. His name is Private B. McCourt and he is with (British Expeditionary Force) B.E.F. in France.

The old lady was delighted to receive the letter and hopes to get another from him as he asked her to write to him. He thanked her for the socks she had knitted, said how glad he was to get them and expressed much appreciation at receiving a pair knitted by an aged person.

The old lady had placed a slip of paper in one of them giving her name address and age.”

The practice of slipping a note in the toe of the socks that they knit with their name and address as well as a prayer for their soldier boys was well established among the Newfoundland knitters. Those receiving the socks with the notes were often gracious enough to return a note of thanks.

It is not likely that the old lady did receive any other correspondence from her Irish soldier, she died on March 8, 1916 at her residence on Long’s Hill just a few weeks after the initial letter from him.

Recommended Reading: “A Pair of Grey Socks. Facts and Fancies. Lovingly dedicated to the boys of the Newfoundland Regiment. And to every woman who has knitted a pair of grey socks. By Tryphena Duley. Verses by Margaret Duley.”

Recommended Archival Collection: Distinguished Service: the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War, this on line exhibition documents the lives and experiences of the province’s soldiers and aims to encourage interest in research on the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. This on line exhibit focuses on the World War I service records of the Regiment, available at the ARCHIVES on microfilm. Some of the service records are on line at: http://www.rnr.therooms.ca/part3_database.asp

Recommended Exhibit:  BEAUMONT-HAMEL AND THE TRAIL OF THE CARIBOU:   Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories. See more at: https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/always/beaumont-hamel-and-the-trail-of-the-caribou#sthash.g7eLJMu8.dpuf