Why should the innocent suffer for the guilty: Prison Reform in Newfoundland?

HMP1June 19, 1890

Archival Moment

Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, (H.M.P.) St. John’s is one of the oldest stone structures in the province, and is one of the oldest, stand-alone stone prisons in Newfoundland and Labrador. It has held countless inmates since the first prisoner took to his cell in 1859.

Since that first prisoner, H. M. Penitentiary has been fodder for reformers and critics.

In June 1890 the House of Assembly of Newfoundland passed a piece of Legislation known as “An Act to provide for the Commutation of Sentences for good behavior and industry of Prisoners confined to the Penitentiary.”  Essentially the legislation allowed for the release of prisoners for good behavior before they completed their full sentence.

The new legislation was the talk of the town. Some were quite critical other reformers suggested that more could be done.

On June 19, 1890 one such reformer in a letter to the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram wrote:

“One of the greatest difficulties in the punishment of convicted persons in this country, (Newfoundland) lies in the fact that it is often impossible to punish the guilty without making the innocent suffer far more severely.”

The writer (he wrote under the pen name Reformer) was suggesting that once convicted and imprisoned the man is “inflicting beggary upon his family.”

The writer proposed a remedy. He wrote:

 “The only remedy for this appears to be that a variety of industries should be established in the penitentiary; that every person imprisoned should be obliged to labor at some industry; and that his earnings should be applied to the support of his family, where such support is needed. In this way, all law-breakers would be gradually deprived of public pity, the respect for the law would grow stronger in the whole community; and the law, being backed up by public opinion, would gain a stronger hold upon the conscience of every individual in the community.”

Insisting that every person imprisoned should be obliged to labor at some industry had the advantage he wrote “to give the prisoner a chance to learn a trade.” He continued:

 “In this way, too, every person imprisoned would learn some trade (more or less perfectly, according to the length of his term, and the nature of the industry); every such person would probably acquire habits of industry; and thus there would be greater security against a relapse into evil ways after discharge from the prison.”

Since it was founded in 1859 until the early 1900’s prison work crews could be seen about the city working on public buildings and there grounds. One industry or trade that was developed at the penitentiary was the trade of ‘broom making’ most of the brooms found in Newfoundland households were  at one time made by the prisoners of the penitentiary.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives: Statistics Showing the Number of Persons in the Penitentiary   [Fonds GN 170] Newfoundland and Labrador court records collection.

Recommended Reading: 2008 “Judging the Prisons of Newfoundland and Labrador: the Perspectives of Inmates and Ex-inmates”, in Poirier, S., Brown, G. and Carlson, T., in Decades of Darkness: Moving towards the Light. A Review of the Prison System in Newfoundland and Labrador, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, pp. 139-202.

 

 

St. John’s woman made mailbag that was aboard Alcock and Brown’s historic flight

Sew much history

The Telegram (St. John’s)14 Jun 2019  by ROSIE MULLALEY

 

Photo Credit: The Rooms, St. John’s, NL A47-24 Brown holding the mailbag and Alcock holding a model plane.

She wasn’t on the plane that made the first transatlantic flight 100 years ago, but Mary Jackman’s contribution to that momentous flight is sewn into the fabric of Newfoundland history.

 

In flying the modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber from here on June 14, 1919, across the Atlantic Ocean before landing in Clifden, Ireland, 16 hours and 12 minutes later — the first non-stop flight from North American to Europe — British aviators Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown of the Royal Air Force took aboard a bag full of mail.

A skilful seamstress, Jackman was the one who made that bag.

“She was a wizard. She could do anything,” Jackman’s granddaughter, Shirley Birmingham, told The Telegram Thursday. “She was a magnificent seamstress, a magnificent cook, a magnificent housekeeper.

“I found out way too late that I should have appreciated my grandmother.”

Birmingham, 95, was raised by her grandmother and grandfather, Capt. John Jackman, after her mother died in 1930, when Birmingham was just six years old.

Photo Credit: The Rooms. A-46-159 Large crowds gathered at Lesters Field to witness history.

Her grandmother — who was born Mary Ann Deally in 1863 — died in 1946, but Birmingham will always have happy memories of her making clothes for the family in their home at 206 Lemarchant Rd. in St. John’s.

“She made my clothes, my (St. Patrick’s) school uniform and my two older sisters’ clothes, and it was all so marvelous,” said Birmingham, adding that the fabric her grandmother used came from the English merchants back in those days.

“There were many things she made — men’s gloves with stitches made so finely in the back. My daughter even wore a coat that she made.”

Birmingham said her grandmother likely got to make the bag because her brother, Jim, worked at the post office at the time.

She had known for years that her grandmother had made the mailbag that was aboard the flight with Alcock and Brown. She wanted to ensure her grandmother was recognized for it this year during the centennial celebrations.

Photo Credit: The Rooms, St. John’s, NL The Alcock and Brown mailbag is on exhibit T The Rooms – 4th level.

Birmingham mentioned it to several people when she attended the Field of Flights exhibit, held at Admiralty House Communications Museum in Mount Pearl last month to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Alcock and Brown’s transatlantic flight. While sifting through albums with historic photos, one featured a photo of Alcock and Brown with the mailbag.

“I think people would find that of interest,” said Birmingham, who lives in St. John’s with her 86-year-old husband, Gerald. “It’s history. It’s Newfoundland history. Many people will forget it, but not me.”

One of the organizers of the exhibit suggested she call Larry Dohey, Director of Programming and Public Engagement at The Rooms, which houses much of this province’s archives.

Dohey working with Museum curators investigated the claim and checked the bag, which is on display at The Rooms, and found Mary Jackman’s name on the inside seam.

“One of the big reasons for the transatlantic flight was to provide better communication around the world,” Dohey explained. “As a result, mail that took weeks before that took a much shorter period of time. It was a very significant accomplishment for many reasons.”

The mailbag is part  of a self-guided aviation tour of the Rooms that  allows visitors to  see the mail bag in the context  of related aviation photographs.  The Rooms also  opened an aviation exhibit   ‘Second to None: The History of Aviation in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Through documents, images, artifacts and artwork from The Rooms collections, this exhibition features highlights from the storied aviation history of our Province.

The centennial celebrations will also feature several private and public events, including a commemorative flight to Ireland, an aviators’ ball, a garden party, a downtown concert, a commemorative sculpture, a city reception, a historic stage production and a commemorative print.

Flight Across Conception Bay Made in 25 minutes

FLEW HERE DIRECT FROM HR. GRACE CIRCLED THE BAY ON RETURN TRIP HARBOR GRACE.

June 11, 1919

Photo Credit: The Rooms; A10:36 Handley Page “Atlantic” Over Harbour Grace, June 1919.

All eyes on June, 1919, in St. John’s and Harbour Grace were looking towards the skies for an opportunity to see one of the many flying machines and their crews that were in St. John’s and Harbour Grace making preparations to participate in the first non-stop transatlantic crossing of the Atlantic.

Four teams were in the country (now province) to compete for a prize of $10,000 and a place in aviation history. They were the team of the Australian pilot Harry Hawker and Scottish navigator Kenneth F. Mackenzie-Grieve; the British aviators Frederick Raynham (pilot) and C.W.F. Morgan (navigator); the British aviators John Alcock (pilot) and Arthur Whitten Brown (navigator and the Handley Page Company Group, led by British pilot Mark Kerr, Handley Page was a British aircraft manufacturer.

On June 10, 1919 residents of Conception Bay and St. John’s were treated to a test flight by the Handley Page Company Group, led by British pilot Mark Kerr and Major Brackley .

The local newspaper the Daily Star reported:

“The Handley- Page plane made a splendid take off on Tuesday afternoon. The wind was westerly, a moderate breeze, and the machine took the air in less than one hundred yards, having reached the height of 2000 feet, she was headed for St. John’s, across Conception Bay, passing over Bell Island at an altitude of 3000 feet, and reached St. John’s in twenty-five minutes. The distance from here to St. John’s is twenty-five miles in a direct line.”

Having reached St. John’s, the aviators circled over the city for ten minutes, then headed westerly, passed along the south side of Conception Bay for thirty miles, then turning northeasterly, flew along the coast line, passing over the settlements and towns along the north side of the bay from Holyrood to their destination at Harbor Grace.

The weather was ideal for flight, the sky being cloudless, the sun shining warmly and visibility good. The flight was witnessed by the majority of the residents of the Conception Bay towns, and the machine was clearly outlined against the horizon and presented a novel sight to the people of the whole coast, both sides of Conception Bay, many of whom saw a plane in flight for the first time.

The people looking to the skies were fascinated. The St. John’s Daily Star reported:

“The horny handed fishermen-farmers watched with intense interest the huge bird-like machine passing gracefully overhead. Women and children left their dwellings, abandoned their work, and made their way to vantage points and watched the flying machine until lost to sight. “

It seemed as if the crew  desired to give the inhabitants of Conception Bay towns an opportunity to see the huge plane on the wing, as he traversed a course returning to Harbor Grace best calculated to accomplish this object. Whether this deduction is correct or not, it is construed by many; and doubtless the residents along the Conception Bay settlements appreciated the opportunity afforded them to see the biggest plane of its class in the world make its first trial trip this side of the Atlantic.

Photo Credit: The Rooms, B21-101 HandleyPage aircraft at Harbour Grace

The landing was made as gracefully as the ascent, the machine taking the ground at 5.47 p.m., having been an hour and seventeen minutes in the air, and covering approximately. 110 miles, averaging ninety miles an hour.

On the return trip the aviators ascended to about 5000 feet, at which height they found the temperature only slightly cooler than at the surface, and the wind practically in the same direction. The landing was made heading eastward, although the wind was westerly, but not strong.

The local papers noted that  Rear Admiral Kerr and Major Brackley says  were ” well satisfied with the result of their trial flight  ”  but  the reality was that during the first trial flight the crew discovered an overheating problem and realized that new radiators would have to be installed.

Speculation  about which  would be off first, Vickers or Handley-Page to set off  was strong.   It was said that “Competition is growing keen” .

Photo Credit: The Rooms; A-47-15 Arthur Brown and John Alcock

Note:   The dream of Kerr and Brackley to be the first to make the nonstop flight over the Atlantic were dashed just a few days later when on June  14, 1919, Alcock and Brown took off from Lester’s Field , St. John’s at 1:45 p.m. in a Vickers Vimy biplane fitted with two Rolls-Royce engines. The two landed nose down in a bog at to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland16 hours later. They received the Daily Mail prize for completing the world’s first nonstop transatlantic flight and were knighted by King George V.

Source: The St. John’s Daily Star

Recommended: Aviation Tour at The Rooms:  Discover some of the gems in the collections at The Rooms. Take a self guided tour and find the mailbag carried on the flight by Alcock and Brown, the Marquette for the Alcock and Brown  Memorial at the Manchester Airport and the Rooms is home to a large collection of Alcock and Brown related photographs.

New Exhibit Opening:  June 14, 2019  at The Rooms: Second to None: The History of Aviation in Newfoundland and Labrador.  This country (now province) has played a significant part in the history of aviation.  From the transatlantic flights by Alcock and Brown and Amelia Earhart through the Second World War and Operation Yellow Ribbon, the role of Newfoundland and Labrador is second to none. Through documents, images, artifacts and artwork from The Rooms collections, this exhibition features highlights from the storied aviation history of our Province.

Recommended: 2019 Alcock and Brown Celebrating 100 years:  Celebrations Schedule https://aviationhistorynl.com/

Alcock and Brown: Flew Very Low —Trip Successful — Aviators Pleased

VICKERS MACHINE HAS TRIAL TRIP

June 10, 1919

Photo Credit: The Rooms: A-47-3 Test Flight Over Lester’s Field

ST JOHN’S  had the pleasure of seeing another airplane yesterday afternoon when the  Vickers Vimy  bi-plane, constructed at Pleasantville, made its trial trip over the city. It attracted every eye and it flew so low that many citizens thought it would drop at any moment. It did not descend, however, until it reached Lester’s field, Cornwall Avenue, where the new hangar is being erected and from where it will start on its transatlantic flight. It was not generally known that the trial flight would be made yesterday and consequently there were not many spectators but those present witnessed a very graceful ‘take off.’

At 4.30 Capt. J. Alcock, D.S.C., pilot, and Lieut. A. W. Brown, navigator, having donned their air clothes, started their flight, rising where the Martinside left the earth on her trial spin and near where she met with the accident a few weeks later.

She rose after a run of about 40 and continued eastward over Signal Hill. The machine then turned westward and after circling over the city continued west at a speed of 95 miles an hour until it reached the bottom of Conception Bay. Though very few were present for the take-off, as it I was not expected the Vickers  would be ready to fly, the noise  off the two Rolls-Royce engines quickly attracted the people, who watched with deep interest the movements of the machine as it gracefully swept over the town and out towards Holyrood.

Photo Credit: A-47-5 Alcock and Brown Assembling of the Vickers Vimy

Having reached the latter place the return trip was made, Capt. Alcock again circling the Vickers over the city and went out over the south side hills to beyond Cape Spear. After flying to and fro for about 47 minutes Capt. Alcock shaped his course  flying at a very low altitude  the new aerodome, Lester’s field, where a perfect landing was made, the machine being brought to a standstill before it covered 50 yards after taking the ground.

On her way to Lester’s field she flew so low that many thought she I would strike some of the houses, but Messrs. Alcock and Brown knew their business and reached the  landing place without the slightest mishap.

The aviators expressed themselves as highly pleased with the satisfactory results obtained from the engines, scarcely any trouble being given during the 47 minutes’ flight. It will be necessary however, before they start the trans-Atlantic flight to make some adjustments and also to test their compasses, which means that the attempt cannot possibly be made before tomorrow. Besides they have to take on board 870 gallons of fuel for their engines and other equipment, but it is hoped that most of; this work will be accomplished today.

Photo Credit: The Rooms. A-46-159 Large crowds gathered at Lesters Field to witness history.

The airmen have decided to take; their departure from Lester’s field, which has been put in first class condition by a staff of men. The ground is perfectly hard and a better starting place it would be difficult to locate. Messrs. Alcock and Brown are confident that they will make the Atlantic flight without mishap.

They have not yet decided where they will land. It may be in Ireland but of everything goes as satisfactorily as they hope, they will continue on to London. The machine is now receiving the finishing touches and as soon as the compasses are tested and the weather conditions over the ocean are favorable the start will be made.

Last evening thousands of citizens visited the hangar and all were favorably impressed with the bi-plane. Messrs. Alcock and Brown have the best of St. John’s for a successful flight.

Source: St. John’s Daily Star, 1919-06-10

Recommended: Aviation Tour at The Rooms:  Discover some of the gems in the collections at The Rooms. Take a self guided tour and find the mailbag carried on the flight by Alcock and Brown, the Marquette for the Alcock and Brown  Memorial at the Manchester Airport and the Rooms is home to a large collection of Alcock and Brown related photographs.

Recommended: 2019 Alcock and Brown Celebrating  100 years:  Celebrations Schedule  https://aviationhistorynl.com/

 

Amelia Earhart Arrives 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 Newfoundland on  June 5 only to encounter gales or fog for days that prohibited their takeoff for Europe.

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,  Burnham and Hubert, waiting near the monoplane in a dory, secured the honor of giving Amelia and Bill Stultz  (pilot) a ride to the dock. Slim Gordon  (mechanic) 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,  (Putnam)  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.

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

Earhart predicted that Trepassey would one day have an international airport.

On June 21, 1928 the prestigious New York Times newspaper following an interview with Amelia Earhart declared that Trepassey would be the site of a great international airport. The newspaper headline declared:

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

Earhart told the New York Times reporter:

“Trepassey ought to be someday, 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.”

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/

TREPASSEY IS ADOPTED BY AMERICA: AVIATION HISTORY

US Navy ships Trepassey Bay May 6, 1919

In May 1919 an estimated 8500 American naval crew arrived in Trepassey Harbour and immediately commenced  establishing a ‘naval base’  laying out a square  and erecting tents to serve as ‘shore canteens’.   The canteens would serve drinks, cigarettes tobacco and other ‘luxuries’.

The Naval vessels that had anchored in the harbour  would eventually be stationed at about 50-mile (80 km) spacings  as guides  for American planes that were flying  from  Trepassey  to Portugal via the Azores, thus completing the first successful (although not non-stop) transatlantic flight.

Looking about the town the Americans were quick to rent the largest building in the community the Temperance Hall which they quickly fitted for concerts. Their plan was to have the ships band give selections in the evenings bolstered with some excellent singers and good musicians that were among the crews.

The St. John’s newspaper the Daily Star reported:

“Notwithstanding the change from fine to damp and somewhat foggy weather last afternoon, the men on shore leave enjoyed themselves well. They have one cause of complaint and that is the absence of places where they can spend their cash allowances in small wares and buy sweetmeats, chocolates and candies for their numerous friends of the village.”

Trepassey in 1919 had but one shop and its shelves were empty within hours of the arrival of the Americans.

The Daily Star reported:

“As Trepassey depends mainly on daily supplies of necessities from the city (St. John’s) no extensive business has been undertaken by any dealer here, hence the scarcity of such things that the Yankee sailor finds.”

JOHN’S NEWSPAPERS SPAR OVER COVERAGE

The St. John’s newspaper, the Evening Telegram was the first out of the gate to report on the armada of American Naval vessels in Trepassey  Harbour but according to The St. John’s Daily Star  the people of Trepassey  were not amused at the coverage. The Star reported:

“The Evening Telegram report yesterday was puerile and greatly exaggerated nonsense.   The few people that I (Daily Star) have shown these extracts are indignant and consider they have been held up to ridicule. The scene depicted of the “natives gathering “and discussing what made the flying machine go and how it was kept in the air “is untrue and a reflection of the good sense and intelligence of the people here and if the Evening Telegram writer had been present at the Trepassey railway station last evening when the men of this place heard it read from my message he would not stand long on the order of his getting away towards the city. He might have been raised a little in the air. Neither the  Yankee sailors nor the people  of Trepassey thank the Evening telegram writer  for his efforts to misrepresent both and cast ridicule on the intelligent people of Trepassey”.

The Evening Telegram was quick to shoot back at the criticism from the Daily Star. Under the banner  “News King at Trepassey”  the Evening Telegram countered:

“The special reporter (Billie Murphy)  of the Telegram  who was in Trepassey for the purposes of obtaining firsthand information of the American activities in connection  with their attempt at crossing the Atlantic  stands by every word of his dispatch from Trepassey, despite the silly article contained in Yesterday’s  Daily Star”.

The Evening Telegram took another critical shot at The Daily Star suggesting that their manner of collecting news was very suspect. The Star did not have a reported in Trepassey they were basing their reports on news from locals in the town.  The Evening Telegram wrote:

“The public must not regard seriously a paper that receives a few dozen words and then adds and pads about ten times as much to it, the addition being pure conjecture and in one instance, at least, the frothy ebullitions of an intensely jealous Star scribe”.

Evening Telegram reporter J. R. Smallwood

 TELEGRAM HAS TWO REPORTERS IN TREPASSEY: YANK SAILOR WRITES. MR. J. R. SMALLWOOD OF THE TELEGRAM

It appears that the Evening Telegram sent along another young news reporter to Trepassey, J. R. (Joey) Smallwood, just 19 years old,  the future premier of  Newfoundland and Labrador.

On May 30, 1919, Joey described as “one of the Telegrams reportorial staff” received a letter from Mr. Balcon S. Bond, the Chief Radiograph Officer of the U. S. S. Prairie, one of the American Naval vessels that anchored in Trepassey during the time (May 6 – May 16, 1919) while the America Navy’s transatlantic flight was being made ready.

The young naval officer wrote:

“Your papers (the Evening Telegram) were received with great delight, and I must express my own, and also the staffs’ appreciation of their contents.   The Telegram is as good as any paper in the little old city of New York.”

He went on to write that the Americans enjoyed their stay in Trepassey and appreciated the hospitality. He wrote:

“Nine-tenths of the Prairie’s crew was sorry to leave Trepassey, for the people there have given us some good times. Fishermen would take us in parties from our ship and show us around the district. In fact, I cannot begin to tell you of some of the good times we had in dear old Trepassey and I am sure that the village will never be forgotten.

 Many homes gave us suppers for the small amount of fifty cents, and it was some supper. About  four good fresh eggs, a large piece of ham, as many cups of coffee or tea as you could drink, and good old home-made bread and butter. If you were to call for a supper like that in New York, I am sure it would cost you two and a half dollars easily” .

Curtiss NC-4 departs Trepassey, Newfoundland , May 1919

 TREPASSEY AND AVIATION HISTORY

On May 16, 1919, three United States Navy-Curtiss Flying Boats (the NC-1, NC-3 and NC-4) left Trepassey harbor.   The NC-4 managed to fly to Portugal via the Azores, thus completing the first successful (although not non-stop) transatlantic flight.

On May 27, 1919 NC-4 became the first aircraft of any kind to fly across the Atlantic Ocean – or any of the other oceans. The part of this flight just from Trepassey, Newfoundland to Lisbon had taken a total time 10 days and 22 hours, but with the actual flight time totaling just 26 hours and 46 minutes.

It all started in Trepassey,  100 years ago this month!!

Recommended Exhibit: The Rooms: NEW EXHIBIT Opening   SOON    “Second to None: Highlights from the History of Aviation in Newfoundland & Labrador”   Newfoundland and Labrador has played a significant part in the history of aviation. Through archival documents and images from The Rooms Provincial Archives supplemented with artifacts from The Rooms Provincial Museum, this exhibition will feature highlights from the storied aviation history of our Province.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first “talking pictures” in Newfoundland

Archival Moments

June 1, 1914

Advertisement: Evening Telegram (St. John's, N.L.)

Advertisement: Evening Telegram (St. John’s, N.L.)

There was much excitement in St. John’s on June 1, 1914 the talk in the town was all about the Casino Theatre on Henry Street, audiences at the old theatre were treated to a “talking picture” that united for the first time, sight and sound, through “talking” motion pictures.

The St. John’s, newspaper, The Evening Telegram declared that this new technology created by the American Inventor Thomas A. Edison, just one year previous, known as the ‘Edison Kinetophone’:

“has taken its place among the high class theatrical attractions now touring Canada and the United States, and is successfully competing with the largest of dramatic and musical organizations.”

Those attending the premier of the first talking pictures in Newfoundland were enthusiastic in their praise:

“it was with a general feeling that the kinetophone has scored …. the most novel success of this new mechanical form of entertainment.”

Audiences were delighted, the evening began with “the talking pictures being preceded by a film shown in the ordinary way with musical accompaniment … “. Typically, all theatres had pianos and or organs and the musician played along with the scenes as they appeared on the screen.

Following the silent film “the talkies (were) thrown on, music and voice, the clear natural tones of the actors as they appear in the different subjects is truly a marvel of genius.”

There were three presentations. In one of the subjects Sprigs from the Emerald Isle the dialogue songs and pipe music (were) so real so vivid in its presentation that the audience forgets the mechanical contrivance and last night broke into loud and prolonged applause.

The night also featured an interview with Baseball Manager John J. McGraw, manager of the New York Giants who won the National League pennant in 1913 and ended with with another talkie that scored a hit the “Four Blacksmiths” a vaudeville singing and talking act.

The reviewer for the Evening Telegram, declared that this new form of entertainment – these talking pictures would be a success. He wrote:

Every member of the audience last night spoke in most appreciative terms of the talking pictures in all their aspects the synchronization and marvelous record of human voice … it is safe to say that many of the pictures should be repeated before the company closes their engagement.”

The enthusiasm of the audiences in St. John’s was not shared by Thomas Edison the inventor. In 1913 he had produced thirteen talking pictures but by 1915 he had abandoned sound motion pictures.

It was discovered that because the sound portion was played on a phonograph that was separate from the projector, it was difficult to get the sound and the motion synchronized perfectly. Audiences found this annoying. Edison was an inventor, he was not a very creative film producer, many people thought his films were boring. Each lasted only six minutes, and portrayed scenes from famous plays or vaudeville acts.

The dissolution of the Motion Picture Patents Corp. in 1915 may also have contributed to Edison’s departure from sound films, since this act deprived him of patent protection for his motion picture inventions.

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

 

 

The Portuguese in Newfoundland

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

May 27, 1955

 

It is estimated that four to five thousand Portuguese Fishermen carried the Fatima statues through the streets of St. John's .

It is estimated that four to five thousand Portuguese Fishermen carried the Fatima statues through the streets of St. John’s .

One of the highlights of the 100th Anniversary celebrations of the Basilica – Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s in 1955 was a parade of four – five thousand Portuguese fishermen from the “White Fleet” who marched through the city of St. John’s on  May 27, 1955.

The fishermen walked in procession from the waterfront to the Basilica –Cathedral and presented a gift in the form of Our Lady of Fatima, comprising a group of nine statues, of poly chromed and gilt plaster.

The statues were presented to Archbishop Patrick J. Skinner of St. John’s, by Reverend Father J. A. Rosa, chaplain of the Portuguese fleet, on behalf of the officers and crews of the fleet, and the people of Portugal.   The grotto  where the statues were placed is located under the west gallery in the Basilica Cathedral.

Three other pieces of public art celebrate the presence of the Portuguese in Newfoundland and  and Labrador.

MiguelCorte Real Andrade visted the site of his ancestor last week.

MiguelCorte Real Andrade visted the site of his ancestor 2015.

The statue of  Gaspar Corte-Real Portuguese navigator – he reached Terra Nova (Newfoundland)  in the 15th century. This statue was unveiled on May 1965 in front of Confederation Building in St. John’s.  It was a gift from from the Portuguese Fisheries Organization as an expression of gratitude on behalf of the Portuguese Grand Banks fishermen for the friendly hospitality always extended to them by the people of Terra Nova.

Another installation of public art to celebrate the history of the Portuguese in Newfoundlandare the series of murals located on Duckworth Street.  (near the site of the  Sheraton Hotel) The murals depict scenes from towns in Portugal.

 

Portuguese Memorial, Mount Carmel Cemetery, St. John's.

Portuguese Memorial, Mount Carmel Cemetery, St. John’s.

The most recent memorial to the Portuguese fishermen is the unmarked grave of White Fleet Fisherman, Dionisio Esteves. He died during the 1966 fishing campaign while unloading his daily catch of codfish. He was crushed between his swamped dory and the steel hull of the fishing vessel. His grave site has come to symbolize all those Portuguese fishermen who lost their lives fishing in Newfoundland waters. The memorial is located in Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Cemetery, St. John’s.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’  on the Portuguese in Newfoundland. Type Portuguese 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: Port O’ Call, Memories of the Portuguese White Fleet in St. John’s, Newfoundland, by Priscilla Doel (Institute of Social and Economic Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, 1992).

 

“When the able and the young go away to work…”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

 May 23, 1869

The Rooms Provincial Archives Division, VA 14-146 / G. Anderson

On  (May 23, 1869) Edward Morris of St. John’s wrote in his diary  about all of the activity at the dockside in St. John’s . He observed “about 500 men” getting ready to leave Newfoundland  in search for work.  He wrote in his diary:

“Yesterday the “Merlin” Steamer left Shea’s Wharf for Nova Scotia with upwards of 500 men to work on the inter colonial railway. The saddest evidence of the depressed state of this colony (Newfoundland) that has as yet been presented.  When the able and the young go away to work upon the roads in the other provinces in preference to remaining to prosecute the fisheries it speaks little for the inducements of the fisherman’s occupation.”

The jobs that the 500 Newfoundlanders were seeking by taking the Steamer ‘Merlin  from St. John’s to Nova Scotia were jobs on the inter colonial railway, under construction,  linking the Maritime colonies and Canada. Completion of the railway was made a condition of Confederation in 1867.

The out migration, that Edward Morris witnessed, by his fellow Newfoundlanders is a constant theme in Newfoundland history.  The people of Newfoundlandand moved to other countries for a wide range of reasons throughout the 1800’s, emigration occurred on the largest scale during the last two decades of the century when the cod fishery fell into severe decline and caused widespread economic hardship.

While some people left their homes permanently, others worked in foreign countries on a seasonal or temporary basis before returning home. Most emigrants moved to Canada or the United States. The vast majority to “the Boston States.”

In more recent years Newfoundland and Labrador has witnessed (1996 and 2001) about 47,100 people pulling up stakes and leaving the province.

According to Statistics Canada estimates Newfoundland and Labrador experienced a net loss of 3,000 people to Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia in 2017-18.

The Conference Board of Canada’s most recent long-term forecast predicts the province’s population will fall from about 527,000 now to 482,000 by 2035.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type emigration 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: Newfoundland: Journey Into a Lost Nation by Michael Crummey and Greg Locke. McClelland & Stewart. Chronicles the passage of a time when cod were still plentiful and the fishery shaped the lives of most of the island’s inhabitants, to the present, when an economy, propelled by oil and mineral development, is recasting the island’s identity in a new mould.

Recommended Website: Statistics Canada – http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/subject-sujet/theme-theme.action?pid=3867&lang=eng&more=0

 

 

Victoria Day, the 24th of May

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

24 May

Queen Victoria: Born May 24, 1819

Victoria Day as we know it today has been known under a number of different names. Our parents and grandparents perhaps best remember it as Empire Day.

With the death of Queen Victoria, who died on 22 January 1901, the nations of the British Commonwealth  including Newfoundland began to search for a way to best celebrate her contributions.

The first ‘Empire Day’ took place on 24th May 1902, Queen Victoria’s birthday. Newfoundland was among the first of the commonwealth nations to officially declare Empire Day an official holiday in 1903.

The holiday has given rise to the

  “The 24th May is the Queen’s Birthday. If we don’t get a holiday we will all run away.”

Empire Day remained on the calendar for more than 50 years. In 1958 Empire Day was renamed as British Commonwealth Day, and still later in 1966 it became known as Commonwealth Day. The date of Commonwealth Day was also changed to 10th June, the official birthday of the present Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed as the Queen’s birthday in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the Queen’s birthday is celebrated in June.

Queen Victoria and Newfoundland Connections

Queen Victoria allowed for the land grant for the Basilica, St. John’s

Queen Victoria and the  Newfoundland Shawl

Bishop  Michael Fleming  – the Roman Catholic bishop  of Newfoundland conceived of the of the idea  of building the  Basilica Cathedral in the 1830’s.  In April, 1838, by gracious decree of the new Queen, Victoria, a definitive grant of some nine acres was made for the purpose of erecting the new cathedral and related buildings.   Fleming  obtained permission from Queen Victoria to build on “The Barrens”.

Tradition has it that  Bishop Fleming  met with Queen Victoria in Hyde Park in London where the Queen rode by in her carriage.  She then invited him sto Buckingham Palace for tea.

After a discussion, Queen  Victoria offered her support and approval for the  granting of the land for the Roman Catholic  Cathedral.  As he was leaving  the Palace – Queen Victoria noted that it was chilly outside and offered him a shawl  –  which he later gave to his friend  Mary Shaw Dempsey of Alexandria Street, St. John’s.   There is a photograph of the shawl in a 1955 publication.

Victoria Behind Carbonear takes its name from Queen Victoria 

Newfoundland:   Victoria goes by many nicknames, including “The Village” and “The Savage Hollar.”  The community of Victoria is believed to have originally begun as a “winterhouse” for people from Freshwater and Carbonear.  In the nineteenth century the settlement was named Victoria Village, in honor of Queen Victoria.

Pitcher Plant

Queen Victoria and the Pitcher Plant

The Pitcher Plant was originally selected by Queen Victoria to be printed on the newly-minted Newfoundland Penny. The Pitcher Plant, was later designated by the Newfoundland Cabinet in 1954 to be the official flower of the new province. This unique plant can be found throughout the marshes and bogs of Newfoundland. The wine and green flowers attract the insects which, occasionally, fall into the tubular leaves below. The cup-shaped leaves collect water and rain, drowning the insects which nourish the plant.  The pitcher plant — so named because its leaves resemble a pitcher for pouring water— ian insect-eating plant that grows in various terrains across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Queen Victoria and Cabot Tower

In 1897, Cabot Tower was commissioned to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary).

An excellent example of late-gothic revival architecture the tower was designed by St. John’s architect William Howe Greene.

Begun in 1898, Cabot Tower was completed in 1900 and has been a part of a number of historic events.

Although now one of the most recognizable symbols of St. John’s and Newfoundland and Labrador, its construction was not well-supported in the town. Most of St. John’s burned to the ground in 1892 and the banks in Newfoundland crashed in 1894. When Judge Daniel .W. Prowse, a prominent local man, suggested building Cabot Tower, one person said in a local paper that:

it’s like putting a silk hat on the head of a man who can’t afford to buy a pair of boots.”

Victoria Park, St. John’s  Declared a Scared Place  

Victoria Park, St. John’s

Victoria Park takes its name from Queen Victoria 

In the Police Court  on July 28,1897, his Honor Judge Daniel Prowse, in delivering judgment in  an assault case committed on Thomas Redmond, a son of Patrick Redmond, caretaker of Victoria Park,  Judge Prowse remarked that “the park is a sacred place”, as is the person of Mr. Redmond, and in future any person brought before him for assaulting that gentleman, will be severely punished.

Take some time to visit Victoria Park this weekend and visit the website of the Victoria Park Foundation.

 

Archival Collection at The Rooms: What have we in the archives about Queen Victoria:  In the search bar  type Victoria: 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

Victoria Day in Newfoundland and Labrador marks the beginning of the summer, it is time to open the cabins  and get the camping gear out!!

Recommened Song:  Buddy Wasisname – 24th Of May.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fMzIpoDHLA&list=RD3fMzIpoDHLA#t=15