New Memorial University Campus Opened


October 9th, 1961

Provehito in Altum (Launch forth into the deep)

On October 9th, 1961, the Elizabeth Avenue   campus of Memorial  University of Newfoundland  in St. John’s was formally opened. Attending the opening  were  a number of well-known dignitaries including Prime Minister  John Diefenbaker, Premier Joseph Smallwood, Lord Thomson of Fleet and  Eleanor Roosevelt.

Mrs. Roosevelt, the widow of the President of theUnited States of America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was the official emissary of the President of theUnited States, John F. Kennedy.  Mrs. Roosevelt formerly passed over to the Board of Regents and the Senate, the new campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Thousands of school children from all parts of the province took part  in the parade up Elizabeth Avenue.

Memorial Universitybegan as Memorial University College (MUC), which opened in September 1925 at a campus onParade StreetinSt. John’s.

Upon opening MUC offered the first two years of university studies, the initial enrollment was 57 students, rising to a peak of over 400 in the 1940s.

The college was established as a memorial to the Newfoundlanders who had lost their lives on active service during the First World War. It was later rededicated to also encompass the province’s war dead of the Second World War.

The post-Confederation government elevated the status of Memorial University College to full university status in August 1949, renaming the institution to Memorial University of Newfoundland.  The enrollment in MUN’s first year was 307 students. In 1961, enrollment increased to 1400.

Recommended Reading:  Dr. Mel Baker, ‘Celebrate Memorial: A Pictorial History of Memorial University of Newfoundland’ (St. John’s Newfoundland: Memorial University Press © 1999)

Malcolm MacLeod. ‘A Bridge Built Halfway: A History of Memorial University College, 1925-1950.’MontrealandKingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990.

Recommended to View:

Recommended Website

“Firing for the school”


October 7, 1900

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. VA 118-18.4 Girls and women sitting behind stove, possibly in school room .(Note the coal bucket near the stove)


At the end of the mass on Sunday, October 7, 1900 the parish priest at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in St. John’s (now Basilica) took to the pulpit to make the usual announcements.  On this particular Sunday the priest also took great pains to explain because of the increase in the price of coal that the families of the children in the parish would have to take on some of the responsibility for “firing for the school”.

The priest told the congregation:

Owing to the increase in the price of coal His Lordship the Bishop (Michael Francis Howley) wishes the parents of the children attending schools in the neighborhood of the city to understand that he cannot supply fuel as usual from the education money and they are expected to help provide firing for the school. “ (Source: Book of Publications, Sunday, October 7, 1900)

Until the 1950’s most rural schoolhouses in the province were outfitted with nothing but a small wood or coal -burning potbelly stove in the corner or center of the room.  It was up to the students to heat the classroom.

A common sight in small towns and villages was a child trudging off to school carrying a couple pieces of wood or coal, his or her contribution to the day’s supply of fuel. The older boys took turns lighting the fire and during the cold winter mornings all the children would bundle around the stove until the temperature rose high enough to make it sufficiently warm to sit in their regular places.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Provincial Archives Division at The Rooms explore MG 365  three logbooks (1916-27, 1918-29 ,1947-54) which document the operation and administration of St. Mary’s School, Southside, St. John’s. The logbooks contain handwritten entries by teachers describing school activities, student performances and events affecting the operations of the school.

Recommended Publication:  Schooling in a Fishing Society: Education and Economic Conditions inNewfoundland andLabrador 1836-1986 Volume 1 & 2 by Phillip McCann.St. John’s,  Newfoundland: Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER),MemorialUniversity of Newfoundland, 1994,   277 pp. and 329 pp.

Recommended Website:  From Slate to Chalk –  Early Schooling in Newfoundland:

Lost Phrase:  The expression “firing for the school” has fallen into disuse.  Have you seen the expression “firing for the school” in other sources?

Gerry Squires: 1937 – 2015

Gerald Squires

An interfaith memorial service is planned for the Basilica

Gerry Squires

Gerry Squires

(November 17, 1937 – October 3, 2015)

Gerald Squires, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most distinguished artists, passed away Saturday (October 3, 2015) at the age of 77 after battling cancer.

He was an artist who found inspiration from the landscape of this place, it was fitting than that it was the landscape that gave him comfort at the end. Squires, the subject of a new film that will be released in 2017 by Kenneth J. Harvey ‘I Heard the Birch Tree Whisper in the Night’ told the producer:

“I was told I was sick by a birch tree …. It was getting late in the evening… I knew something was wrong. I looked out my window at the birch trees, they were shivering …. Suddenly my mind accepted the reality of being sick …. “

Filmmaker and fellow-artist Kenneth J. Harvey is working on a film about Squires and his work, to be released in 2017.”I Heard the Birch Tree Whisper in the Night” Please take time to view:

Born in Change Islands, Newfoundland, in 1937, he took his early art training in Toronto, where his family moved when he was 12. Growing up, Squires and his family moved often as his mother worked as an officer with the Salvation Army.

He wrote about his mother:

“During the darkness and despair of the first round of chemo, I got fixated on my Mother who died some twenty years ago, my thoughts kept returning to my childhood, to our life together… We loved each very much, we shared many in conversations, concerning Christianity and the things of God, my first influence.”

He returned here with his wife and daughters 20 years later, and settled in 1971 in the lighthouse-keeper’s house in Ferryland.

Much of Squires’ painting has an overtly spiritual quality. Early symbolic works such as The Wanderer, The Boatman, and Cassandra were followed by a major commission from Mary Queen of the World Parish in Mount Pearl: two triptychs and The Stations of the Cross. It is also home to the celebrated Last Supper where Squires casts his friends as the disciples. He often joked that he was the unofficial Catholic artist with major commissions for the Sisters of Mercy, St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital and the Basilica Cathedral.

In subsequent years Squires has concentrated on landscape; the origins of this interest go back at least to the Ferryland Downs paintings of the late 1970s.

Among his many honours, Gerald Squires was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy and appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1999, received the Golden Jubilee Award from Her Majesty the Queen in 2003 and was inducted in the Newfoundland and Labrador Art Council’s Hall of Honor in 2008. A major retrospective of the artist’s work was mounted by the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1998, and in September 2008 a solo exhibit “My Lanscape” was held at the Granary Gallery in Waterford, Ireland. Gerald Squires: Newfoundland Artist, by Des Walsh and Susan Jamieson, was published in 1995 and in 2009 Breakwater Books Publishing came out with the artbook “Where Genesis Begins” including 71 artworks by Squires and 37 poems by his good friend Tom Dawe.

Gerald Squires has lived in Holyrood with his wife Gail since 1983.

The Rooms was working with Mr. Squires curating a major retrospective of his work that will open in 2017.

An interfaith memorial service is planned for the Basilica at 11 Saturday morning, followed by a celebration and reflection of his life at 5 p.m. at the Masonic Temple. Gerry Squires is the only NL artist to have his work featured in the Basilica – a magnificent monument to Bishop Lambert.


“Moisture might be noticed in many an eye … “

Archival Moment

October 4, 1914

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 8-28; Soldiers of the First Newfoundland Regiment marching at Pleasantville, St. John’s.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 8-28; Soldiers of the First Newfoundland Regiment marching at Pleasantville, St. John’s.

October 4, 1914, is a significant date on the Newfoundland calendar, it was on this date that the Newfoundland Regiment set sail on the transport vessel the SS Florizel to fight for country and King. This was the first of some 27 groups to embark from Newfoundland’s shores during the course of the First World War.

These men that marched from the camps in Pleasantville on Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s to the Florizel are the men that are celebrated in our history as the First Five Hundred, or by their other popular designation “The Blue Puttees.”

These were the men that faced near annihilation at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916, and costly major engagements in October at Gueudecourt and at Monchy-le-Preux. On the battle field these proud soldiers solidified their place in history. The Regiment earned no less than 280 separate decorations, 77 of which were awarded to original members of the “first 500” of which 170 were killed in action.

On October 4 as they marched through the streets of St. John’s to their transport they were not thinking of death, this was an “adventure” for them.  For many it would be the first time away from home.

The day following their departure from St. John’s, a reporter for the St. John’s newspaperThe Daily News, wrote:

“The 1st Newfoundland Regiment actually started for the front when they left Pleasantville at 4:30 Saturday afternoon.  (October 3, 1914) Under the command of Captain Franklin the volunteers headed by the Catholic Cadet Corps (C.C.C.)  Band proceeded by King’s Bridge, Circular, Military Roads, Prescott  and Water Street to the Furness Withy Company’s pier where the transport Florizel lay to take them away.

Thousands accompanied them on the march from the camp and crowds gathered along the route to bid them God’s speed. The principal buildings, stores and many private residences were gaily decked with flags as was also all the shipping in the harbour.

The crush, all the business have been suspended, near the embarking point was indeed a sight, the gathering being undoubtedly the largest ever seen in the city. Every vantage point was seized to see the men go by only with the greatest difficulty did the police and the men of the H.M.S. Calypso keep the crowds from pressing on to the pier.

The volunteers are indeed a body the Colony may be proud of and as they swung along, they warmly answered the wishes of their good friends. All were in high spirits and showed plainly their eagerness to be off, evidencing the true spirit of patriotism.

At the pier His Excellency the Governor, Lady Davidson and children and Premier, members of both branches of the legislature, clergymen of all denominations and citizens prominent in every walk of life, had assembled.  Arriving at the pier, each company was drawn up inside the entrance and marched on board the ship, between lines of people whose enthusiasm knew no bounds, the (Catholic Cadet Corps)  C.C.C.,  (Church Lads Brigade); C.L.B, , Methodist Guards and Salvation Army bands meanwhile rendering spirited airs,  also the hymn  “God be with you till we meet again.”

Some little delay was caused in the embarking, the men being delayed by friends who would not be denied the saying of the last farewell. As the men ringed along the ships rail a continuous outburst of cheering was kept up.

Many pathetic scenes were witnessed and suspicious moisture might be noticed in many an eye while those who had immediate relatives in the ranks wept bitterly.


Photo Credit: At the Rooms Provincial Archives: A 58-68; 1st Newfoundland Regiment along the Florizel’s rail ready to depart St. John's October 4, 1914.

Photo Credit: At the Rooms Provincial Archives: A 58-68; 1st Newfoundland Regiment along the Florizel’s rail ready to depart St. John’s October 4, 1914.

At last all the men, their kit and supplies were on board  and at 6 p.m. the transport hauled of to the stream. Whistles sounded, guns blazed forth, the C.C.C. on board the tug John Green played, the British marching song “It’s a long way to Tipperary”  the members of the contingent and thousands  assembled joining in the chorus. Surrounded by a flotilla of tugs, motor and row boats the Florizel came to anchor in the stream.

All night and yesterday the boats remained near the ship, while the waterside premises particularly the King’s wharf were lined with people anxious to see a relative or friend who might come on shore. … she (Florizel) got underway and steamed grandly through the Narrows, those on shore cheered wildly. Many of the boats and launches accompanied the ship outside the heads.  … Those who had enlisted but were not among the 525 selected bitterly expressed their disappointment.”

(Note: Notwithstanding the newspaper’s statement, there were 537 Officers and Other Ranks aboard her.  There were 539 in all in the First Contingent;  Franklyn (the CO) and Timewell (the Paymaster) sailed to England on another ship.)

Recommended Archival Collection:    From your home visit the website, The Great War:   This site  created by the Rooms Provincial Archives will resonate with audiences who are interested in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador’s involvement in the First World War. The site contains the military files of over 2200 soldiers from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who served in the First World War, including those of the 1305 young men who died in the conflict. These files are searchable by name or by community and will therefore provide invaluable information for all viewers, but will be of particular interest to those who are conducting either family or community research.

Recommended Exhibit: Pleasantville: From Recreation to Military Installation. Level 2 Atrium. 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.

Recommended Reading: Out of a Clear Sky: The Mobilization of the Newfoundland Regiment, 1914-1915 by Mike O’Brien, Newfoundland and Labrador Studies.  Volume 22, Number 2 (2007)    Memorial University of Newfoundland.  Article on line.




Portuguese Ambassador to Unveil Memorial to White Fleet Fisherman

Portuguese Ambassador to Unveil Memorial to White Fleet Fisherman

October 6, 2015

13Bis_Marins13_marinsJose Moreira da Cunha, the Portuguese Ambassador to Canada will be in St. John’s on October 6 to unveil a memorial to Portuguese fisherman who died in Newfoundland waters in 1966.

In 2012 at the request of a Commanding Officer in the Portuguese Navy a search was initiated in St. John’ s to find the unmarked grave of Dionisio Candido Quintas Esteves, the 26 year old Portuguese fisherman who lost his life.

Using archival photographs and film, the unmarked grave was located in Mount Carmel Cemetery in St. John’s. Since the discovery of the grave, Portuguese Naval officials have hosted annually a wreath laying ceremony at the site to remember Esteves who has come to symbolize all of the Portuguese fishermen who have died prosecuting the fishery. Esteves was one of the thousands of Portuguese who plied Newfoundland waters as part of the crew of the Portuguese White Fleet. Esteves sailed on the celebrated Santa Maria Manuela.

The memorial was designed by the Portuguese artist Antonio Neves.

The memorial was designed by the Portuguese artist Antonio Neves.

Through the efforts of individuals in Newfoundland and in Portugal a monument has been designed that will be placed at the gravesite as a permanent memorial. The memorial was designed by the Portuguese artist Antonio Neves.

On Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 11:00 am at Mount Carmel Cemetery, (Kennas Hill – Logy Bay Road entrance) St. John’s the memorial will be officially unveiled at the grave of Portuguese fisherman.

The Most Reverend Martin Currie, Archbishop of St John’s, will officiate at the dedication.

The unveiling will be performed by His Excellency Jose Moreira da Cunha, Ambassador of Portugal in Canada. He will be assisted by a white fleet dory man who was a colleague of Esteves when he died on the SANTA MARIA MANUELA. Also assisting is a former crew member of the Hospital/Assistance Vessel GIL EANNES.

This short commemorative ceremony is open to the public.

Local businessman and author, Jean Pierre Andrieux has been spearheading the idea of creating and erecting the memorial that will serve to remember all Portuguese fishermen who lost their lives fishing in Newfoundland waters.

For further information contact Jean Pierre Andrieux @   or 753-7277.

They disappeared from the earth like a shadow…


October 2, 1827


Photo Credit: Drawings by Shanawdithit showing spears, water buckets, cups, a dancing woman, a devil Source: Library and Archives Canada/C-028544 © Public Domain nlc-683

They disappeared from the earth like a shadow…

On October 2, 1827, William Cormack, described as an explorer, agriculturalist and merchant in St. John’s, formed the ‘Beothic Institution’, for the purpose of opening a communication with, and promoting the civilization of the “Red Indians of Newfoundland.”

Cormack, had become alarmed at the decimation the Beothuk people and culture, and began searching the Newfoundland wilderness for the Beothuk. In 1823 he heard that a young Beothuk woman Shawnadithit (Nancy April) had been captured,  one of only a few Beothuk with whom to communicate. He immediately sought her out to learn about the Beothuk culture.

Shawnadithit, in effect, became the Beothuk Institution, supplying Cormack with  some of his only first-hand information on the tribe.  Cormack wrote:

“We have traces enough left only to cause our sorrow that so peculiar and so superior a people should have disappeared from the earth like a shadow… Shawnadithit is now becoming very interesting as she improves in the English language and gains confidence in people around. I keep her pretty busily employed in drawing historical representations of everything that suggests itself relating to her tribe, which I find is the best and readiest way of gathering information from her.”

Many prominent citizens subscribed to become members of the Institute.

Cormack subsequently set off with three native guides to explore the area around the Exploits River and Red Indian Lake where the Beothuk were known to have lived but found the country deserted. As a last resort a native search party was sent to the region of Notre Dame and White Bays under the auspices of the Beothuk Institution.

No Beothuk were encountered, as Cormack had feared they were on the verge of extinction.  With the death of Shawnadithit in 1829, Cormack wrote,  they had “disappeared from the earth like a shadow…”

On 2 October 1997, 170 years after its inception, the Beothic Institution was revived as the Beothuk Institute. Its mandate was to arrange for the erection of a statue of a Beothuk woman to commemorate the Beothuk people, and to promote public awareness of the Beothuk and other aboriginal peoples of the province. The idea of a statue came from Newfoundland artist  Gerald Squires, who had a vision of a female Beothuk in the Bay of Exploits, and wanted to honour the spirit of her people. He was commissioned to create the statue. It was poured in bronze by artist Lubin Boykov and unveiled at the Boyd’s Cove Provincial Historic Site in July 2000.

Since then the Beothuk Institute has sponsored the publication of a booklet on the Beothuk, provided essays on the Beothuk  and has initiated a study of Beothuk DNA.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives read MG 257 consists of a vocabulary of the Native Red Indians language, from Mary March / compiled by the Rev. John Leigh, 1819-1820, composed of words learned from Demasduit (Mary March), a female Beothuk captured by John Peyton, Jr., at Red Indian Lake, on 5 March 1819. Fonds consist of one booklet, with 17 sheets and cover.

Recommended Website:  At the Rooms Provincial Museum see Museum NotesThe Beothuks  By Ralph T. Pastore

Recommended Film: Shanaditti : Last of the Beothuks. Directed by Ken Pittman; produced by Rex Tasker and Barry Cowling. Montréal: National Film Board ofCanada, 1982. 20 min., 22 sec.

Recommended Reading:  Marshall, Ingeborg. The Beothuk of Newfoundland: A Vanished People.St. John’s, 1989.

Symposium in Honour of the 100th Anniversary “The Beothucks or Red Indians”.The Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society invites you to attend their Symposium in Honour of the 100th Anniversary of James P. Howley’s book, “The Beothucks or Red Indians”. In 1915, James P. Howley published what is still regarded as one of the most important works on the Beothuk.

Location: UC 3018, The Landing, Smallwood University centre, MUN, St. John’s

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2015

Time: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Doors open at 6:40 p.m. Seating is limited.

For more information:



Why choose the caribou as a Newfoundland symbol ?

Archival Moment

October 2, 1915

Honour the Newfoundland Regiment at the Dardanelles

CaribouThe woodland caribou has long been an important symbol to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.  In October 1915 there was a movement in the dominion of Newfoundland  (now province) to have every person “wear the emblem of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment.”

On October 1, 1915 the St. John’s newspaper the Daily Star reported that members of the St. John Ambulance Nursing Division would be on the street corners in St. John’s selling the caribou emblem for 5 cents. Their goal was to have every person “wearing the emblem of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment in Honour of our boys who have had their first baptism of fire in the Dardanelles.”

It was at Gallipoli that the Newfoundland Regiment received its baptism of fire.  The 1,076 Newfoundlanders landed on the shores of the Dardanelles on September 19, 1915. The St. John’s newspaper reported:

“We are proud of them and grateful to them all, and our hearts especially go out to those who have the added Honour of being wounded in fighting for these, their distant homes.”

The sale of the caribou emblem had a twofold purpose, it encouraged patriotic fervor and monies realized helped “the members of the Women’s Patriotic Association (W.P.A) in their effort to provide our defenders with the most essential necessaries.”

In addition to their monetary efforts the “necessaries” that the Newfoundland women supplied included knitted scarves, socks, helmets and waistcoats for the men overseas. Between 1914 and 1916, the women produced 62,685 pairs of socks, 8,984 pairs of cuffs (mittens with a trigger finger), and 22,422 mufflers. The WPA also aided the Red Cross and nursing services by preparing medical materials for the war.

The caribou has always held a significant place in Newfoundland history. The caribou that is found on the uniforms of the Newfoundland Regiment was copied from that of the Presbyterian Newfoundland Highlanders, a para military cadet corps formed in 1907.

It could be said that the caribou as an official symbol stumbled into our history. In 1638 King Charles I granted Sir David Kirke (Ferryland) the Coat of Arms of Newfoundland.  The crest is unique in that the shield is topped by an image of an elk, remarkable in the fact that elk never inhabited Newfoundland or Labrador. Caribou, however, were and are commonplace. The elk is most probably used due to the fact that none of the English heralds of the 1600’s had ever seen a caribou and, therefore, could not draw one. They did, however, know what an elk looked like and this animal was used instead.

On October 2, 1915 it is doubtless that the St. John Ambulance nurses sold many caribou emblems to the patriotic citizens of St. John’s all wanting to show their support to the Newfoundland Regiment.  It would also mark the first time that the emblem was sold solidifying its place as the iconic symbol of Newfoundland and the Newfoundland Regiment.

Today in what were the fields of battle where Newfoundlanders fought,  on what is now known as the “Caribou Trail”  the  caribou, the symbol of the regiment and the province (then-dominion), stands facing the enemy line with its head thrown back in defiance, a symbol of Newfoundlanders’ bravery and fortitude.

Recommended Archival Collection:    From your home visit the website, The Great War:  This site  created by the Rooms Provincial Archives will resonate with audiences who are interested in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador’s involvement in the First World War. The site contains the military files of over 2200 soldiers from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who served in the First World War, including those of the 1305 young men who died in the conflict. These files are searchable by name or by community and will therefore provide invaluable information for all viewers, but will be of particular interest to those who are conducting either family or community research.

Recommended Museum Visit:   At The Rooms provincial Museum  vit the exhibit Here, We Made a Home  in The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4. This exhibit highlights some of the artifacts associated with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and what was happening on the ‘Home Front.’

Recommended Song:   Recruiting Sergeant (Newfoundland-Great Big Sea) +Recorded by Great Big Sea (Play, trk#10, 1997, Warner Music Canada, Scarborough, Ontario.  Listen: