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.

The fear of Friday 13th

Do you fear Friday 13th?

Was Judas number 13?

Triskaidekaphobia (also being referred to as 13-digit phobia) is the irrational fear of the number 13.

Some attribute it to the Bible, where the Last Supper was attended by 13 people, and some speculated that the 13th person at the table was Judas, who later betrayed Jesus.

Another belief is that the phobia of number 13 is caused by it being an irrational number and 12 being the number of perfection. Numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus.

Triskaidekaphobia can be seen even in how societies are built. More than 80 percent of high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.

Interestingly, a study published in 1993 in the prestigious British Medical Journal which analyzed the relation between health, behavior, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United Kingdom by comparing the ratio of traffic volume to traffic accidents on Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th over a period of years found that, “The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended.”

A study in  2004  suggested that $800 to $900 million is lost each Friday the 13th as a result of people avoiding travel, wedding plans, moving, and so on.

How do you pronounce the word? TRIS-kə-DEK-ə-FOH-bee

Say TRIS-kə-DEK-ə-FOH-bee -ah. three times very loudly as you approach friends or groups of people and they will  (usually) step aside making a clear safe path for you to walk – most will leave you alone to work in your very safe environment.

 

Explore some of the photographs of Forteau, Labrador

Forteau, Labrador; IGA 18-251

Dennison Cottage, built in Forteau in 1907, was a result of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell’s medical mission along the Quebec and Labrador coast and was the first ever Grenfell Mission Nursing Station to be established.

More than a hundred miles from the closest hospital, Dennison Cottage provided medical care in the form of emergency services and the delivery of children. Miss Florence Bailey was the first nurse at Dennison Cottage and served there for eighteen years. She was recruited from England and was renowned for her caring nature and expert abilities as a mid-wife. She also became quite skilled at driving dogsleds before leaving the management of the station to the nurses that would follow in her footsteps.

For many years, anyone requiring extensive medical care would be transported to the hospital in Battle Harbour by dog team or by boat, depending on the time of year. The services of the Forteau Nursing Station continued until the latter part of the 20th century, when a larger clinic offering more medical services was built in Forteau.

The Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest public cultural space is home to the International Grenfell Associations(IGA)  photograph collection which depict the activities of the IGA at St. Anthony, Forteau, and Rigolet and many other communities that were served by the IGA.   Take some time to explore some of the photographs of Forteau, Labrador that are part of the collection.

Forteau, Labrador Photographs:   http://gencat.eloquentsystems.com/therooms_permalink.html?key=123203

Click on the item that reads 49 records.

The Rooms collects and preserves materials relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador from government and private records to maps, photos and film, The Rooms collections cover centuries of materials that tell the story of our province and its history.

For more information on this and other photograph collections  contact THE ROOMS PROVINCIAL ARCHIVES DIVISION
Archives Reference Desk: 709-757-8088
Email: archives@therooms.ca

 

Disturbing music on the streets of St. John’s

In 1903 the new and emerging form of entertainment was the gramophone.

In 1903 the new and emerging form of entertainment was the gramophone.

Archival Moment

July 10, 1903

Shop keepers have tried all manner of gimmicks to attract customers to their establishments, one of the marketing strategies used by the shops in downtown St. John’s in 1903 was loud music.

In the early 1900’s the new and emerging form of entertainment was the gramophone, created in 1887. In 1901, 10-inch disc records were introduced followed in 1903 by 12-inch records. These made the gramophone accessible to most families and businesses for their leisure. These  new records could play for more than three and four minutes respectively.

The St. John’s shop keepers would place their gramophone near the entrance of their stores causing customers to stop and listen, luring them into their shops or to their shop windows to look at their merchandise.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. Water Street, St. John's, A2-34:

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. Water Street, St. John’s, A2-34:

Not all residents of the town appreciated the new marketing ploy; one of the difficulties that it presented was that as customers stood on the sidewalks listening to the music they were blocking the sidewalks. Some residents felt that the police should be called to keep the streets clear!

The Editor of the Evening Telegram was among those who was not amused. He wrote:

“The policy of small shop keepers of using a gramophone to attract customers is becoming a decided nuisance. Crowds throng around the shop doors and the windows rendering the sidewalk impassable.”

The Editor offered a solution:

“If the police cannot keep the street clear, let them remove the cause (the gramaphone’s) which is the only other remedy.

 It is unknown if the curmudgeonly Editor had much sway or if shoppers lost their enthusiasm for the novelty of the new technology, but it appears that no other complaints were made against the use of the gramophone.

Shopkeepers knew however that they were onto something. Over the past number of years there have been academic studies into the effects of background music in shops. The research indicates that music volume, speed and genre can have significant effects on how long consumers spend in shops and restaurants, how much they purchase or consume, and whether they view brands or individual products favorably or unfavorably.

Imagine, it all started with complaints about the gramophone.

AT THE ROOMS you can also listen to some great music.  WE PLAY FOR YOU. From fiddle to accordion, from harp to vocals, come and check out our amazing local talent as they fill The Rooms with music and song from our province’s rich musical heritage. You can sing along, tap your toes or just sit back and delight in the experience.  https://www.therooms.ca/ 

Recommended Archival Collection: City and Town Directories held in the archives give incredible insights into the business life of Newfoundland communities. A few of the directories that should be consulted when doing research are Hutchinson’s Directory of Newfoundland (1864); Lovell’s Directory for Newfoundland (1871); McAlpine’s Directory for Newfoundland (1871); and Rochfort’s Directory of Newfoundland (1877).

Recommended Museum Exhibit: At the Rooms: Here, We Made a Home The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4.

 

 

A son remembers his father, a memorial for Beaumont Hamel

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

February 20, 1922

TACAGoodbyeDaddy2On February 20, 1922 six year old Harvey White of Durrells Arm (Twillingate) wrote to Lieut. Col Thomas Nangle enclosing a small donation for the construction of the war memorial at Beaumont Hamel, France.

Lieut. Col Thomas Nangle had purchased from the farmers of France, on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland, the fields that we now know as Beaumont Hamel – the fields where many young men of Newfoundland had died during WWI. Nangle and the government of Newfoundland were determined to establish a War Memorial on the site.  A campaign was started that encouraged all Newfoundlanders to support the building of the memorial in any way they could.

Six year old Harvey White wrote:  

Dear Sir:

I ham only a lettel  Boy not quit seven yars old 

I  do go to school Every Day and I ham in no. one Book 

an I keep hed of the class Every Day

and I had one Dollar gave me four keeping hed of the Class so I ham sending  it  to you four Bhaumont hamel memorial 

that is the spot ware my Fathere was killed July the First 1916.

I  ham in closing one Dollar

Yours very truly

 Harvey White, 

Twillingate, Durrell Arm

 Sir if you got eny Fishear Books to spare ps send me some to look at some times I am very fond of books.

“A WEDDING RING BY OCTOBER.” 

Harvey never did meet his father, Frederick (Fred) White, age 22, Regimental number 1481.

In a letter from Ayr, Scotland where Fred was stationed before being sent to fight in France, to the mother of the child (Mary Young)  he asked Mary if she would consider calling the child (that she was pregnant with) Roland with the promise of a “wedding ring by October.”  She did grant his wish – Roland Kitchner Young  was born on August 10, 1915. Everyone called him Harvey.

The young soldier and father never did see October – he never saw his son – he died at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916.

Little Harvey White’s  (he took his father’s surname) determination to support a memorial at Beaumont Hamel was typical of many who gave their last penny to insure that those sons of Newfoundland who had died during the war would have a memorial.  A field of honour in the battlefields of France where they died.

The Memorial site at Beaumont Hamel was officially opened on June 7, 1925  three years after little Harry White gave his one dollar donation.

Explanation of term:   “no. one book”:  Before grades like grade one – grade two and grade three. etc.  Schools were structured by book – book one – book two – book three. Book one was equivalent to grade one.

Explanation of term:  “Fishear Books”: (Fisher Books)  are a series of   children’s books  written by  American author  Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  Newfoundland Regiment   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

 

Memorial Day at The Rooms.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 1, 1916

Memorial Day at The Rooms.
Date: Sunday, July 1st, 2018
Time: 12:00pm – 5:00pm

 

NA 3106 Opening of the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont Hamel, France

July 1st is a time for celebration for the people of Canada, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the day has a more somber meaning.

Memorial Day commemorates the participation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont-Hamel, France.

On July 1, 1916, 801 members of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment fought in that battle and only 68 answered the roll call the next morning.

 “We here in Newfoundland have felt the effects of the war… The  dreadful reality of war has come to too many families throughout the land. And there are very few districts in the Island which are not mourning… sons lost on the field of battle. The war is an all absorbing topic, it is never absent from our thoughts. It is like some dreadful nightmare that we cannot shake off. Our prayers and desires are for a speedy end of the war, for an early peace, but for a peace at the same time, which will render impossible another such world calamity as that which we are suffering now.” (Source:  Edward Patrick Roche, 1918  – 107‑2‑6)

Shortly after the Great War, the Government of Newfoundland purchased the ground over which the 1st Newfoundland Regiment made its heroic advance on July 1. Much of the credit is due to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Nangle. As Director of Graves Registration and Enquiry and Newfoundland’s representative on the Imperial War Graves Commission, he negotiated with some 250 French landowners for the purchase of the site. He had a leading part in planning and supervising the erection, at each of the five Newfoundland Memorials sites in Europe, of a statue of the noble caribou, the emblem of the Regiment, standing facing the former foe with head thrown high in defiance.

Memorial Day at The Rooms.
Date: Sunday, July 1st, 2018
Time: 12:00pm – 5:00pm

Cost:  Free Admission

Spend some time in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery to meet descendants of the men and women who served their country 100 years ago. Hear their stories and share your own.

Join us in the  theatre for a free screening of When the Boys Came Home – a documentary retracing the footsteps of the Blue Puttees from the streets of St. John’s to Gallipoli, France, Belgium and home again. When the Boys Came Home reveals the workaday and internal battles that the Royal Newfoundland Regiment’s Blue Puttees waged after the First World War.

With free admission for the day, we hope many will join us in Memorial Day commemorations with a visit to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  Newfoundland Regiment   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

Lest we Forget!

 

 

Lawlessness blamed on St. Mary’s Bay Rum

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 27, 1884

Lawyers Claim “ST. MARY’S RUM IS OF SO DELETERIOUS A CHARACTER”

On  June 27, 1884 an outrage against the population in St. Mary’s, St.  Mary’s Bay, Newfoundland  was considered so offensive that it made the newspaper headlines internationally. The North Otago Times, in New Zealand   featured this account of the event in St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Bay. The article reads:

“An outrage was perpetrated on Saturday, June 27, 1884 by the crew of the barque Lady Elibank. The crew broke into the Catholic church of St. Mary’s in St. Mary’s Bay, and demolished the furniture and appointments of the sanctuary, destroyed the tabernacle, abstracted the chalice, and other sacred vessels, smashed the candelabra, and strewed the debris about the streets, and in various ways desecrated the church. Five men were arrested.

As soon as the knowledge of this desecration of the church spread amongst the Catholic population, not less than 500 boats were manned for the purpose of firing and scuttling the vessel ; but the influence of the parish priest  and the supplying merchants prevented revenge.”

In Newfoundland, the local newspapers the “Newfoundlander” and “Evening Telegram” carried every detail of the story. 

The “Newfoundlander” on July 1st, 1884 described the event as:

“An act of monstrous desecration and sacrilege was committed at St. Mary’s. Five of the sailors – four of whom are Germans (later to be determined Norwegian) and one a Negro – broke into the Roman Catholic Chapel at a late hour of the night, knocked down the altar furniture, tore up one or more vestments, and even made away with the chalice. The perpetrators of the shocking outrage have all been arrested, …  it is the first act of scoundrelism of the kind that has taken place in this country. As yet, there are no further particulars than those given above, and it is assumed that drink has been the prime mover. “

 “ST. MARY’S RUM IS OF SO DELETERIOUS A CHARACTER”

The hint that St. Mary’s rum was involved gave rise to an unusual defense by Mr. George Emerson the lawyer for the sailors, said to the learned gentlemen:

St. Mary’s rum is of so deleterious a character that not my unfortunate clients, but the vendors of such poison, should be placed in the dock.”

He argued the sweeping charge should be made against the liquor sellers of St. Mary’s.

Judge Philip Little was not receptive to the argument.  He gave his instructions to the Grand Jury. The jury returned; Kenner was to be sentenced to two years, Gustafsen to one year and ten months, both with hard labour in the Penitentiary.

Recommended Archival Collection:    Read the many great stories that is our history in The Evening Telegram: [1879-1886]-1978 Microfilm and in the Newfoundlander  [1827-1835], 1837-[1846-1849, [1851]-[1855-1856]-[1858]-[1860]-[1863]-[1865]-[1868]-[1873]-[1877]-1884 microfilm