St. Mary’s Bay in mourning, men marooned on ice, lost.

untitledArchival Moment

March 29, 1875

There was much excitement in the town of St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Bay on March 2, 1875, excitement that would by the end of the month turn into grieving.

The excitement was stirred by the sighting of a vessel 2 ½ miles from the shore of St. Mary’s,  the vessel was stuck in the ice. The men of  St. Mary’s  looked on this as an opportunity to salvage the vessel. A party of thirty four men and one young boy, 14 year old John Grace was quickly gathered and they started out on the ice too the brig, spending the day on board.

Toward evening they started back to St. Mary’s, but had not proceeded far when  they realized the terrible fact  that the ice had parted between them and the shore, and the opening was increasing every moment.

The men would be marooned on a pan of ice for the best part of the month, many died, and some would be rescued from the pan of ice by a the schooner Georg S. Fogg on route to Bermuda. The survivors were later transferred to a larger passing steamship, the Nurnberg, on route to Baltimore, Maryland.

It was on arrival in Baltimore that a reporter with the Baltimore Sun learned off the plight of the men from St. Mary’s and interviewed the men writing this story.

Andrew Mooney of St. Mary’s interview with the Baltimore Sun

Andrew Mooney a man of thirty six years, with an intelligent and honest countenance, who is among those of the Nuremberg said yesterday (March 28, 1875) that all were neighbors to each other, and nearly all were born in St. Mary’s. He and a number of others have large families, which they supported by fishing in the summer.

Mooney told the Baltimore Sun that when they saw that the ice had parted they realized they were in trouble.

The Baltimore Sun reported:

Consternation seized upon them as they hastened forward, and each threw away his heavy outer clothing as he ran, to be encumbered as little as possible. When the brink of the ice was reached the space of water between them and the shore was half a mile wide, the ice haven broken one mile from the land, and the immense field upon which they stood floating steadily further out to sea.

It was now quite dark, the party was exhausted and half-clad and they prepared for the terrible cold which soon set in. At first it rained until they were all wet to the skin. The rain then turned to sleet and snow, the wind veered to the northward, and the cold became intense, the fierce blast of the wind cutting them to the bone.

Then began the effort for life, the men stamping their feet, running madly about, and the more sturdy encouraging the weak and faltering. The cold still increased, as Mooney says, it had reached a degree of intensity not equaled before in that latitude this winter.

“When morning dawned several corpses were counted …”

At midnight the cold and exhaustion began to tell upon the doomed ones in the little party. First one and then another of them would lie down saying he could not go any further. The others would pick them up and try to keep them on their feet but after reeling for a short distance like drunken men they would fall senseless upon the ice and die without a struggle. Those able to keep their feet had enough to keep themselves from falling into fatal lethargy and with sad hearts each victim was left to his fate. Father or son or brother saw each other fall and were powerless to help. When morning dawned several corpses were counted at intervals along the ice and of the remainder none could tell who was to be the next victim.

On that terrible night, March 2, the boy and other delicate ones were placed in the middle of the throng as they stood or moved about and thus secured some shelter.

A field of ice twenty feet square floated near the brink of the ice in the open water, upon which nine of them got, hoping that it would float toward the shore ice and they could thus save themselves. When it had floated three hundred yards from the ice, upon which their comrades stood it grounded, and the unfortunates remained upon it for three days and nights, during which time six of them died, the other three being picked up by the schooner Georg S. Fogg on the 6th March.

When it is remembered that seven died on that first night, it is wonderful that three of the nine on the small icefield escaped alive, they having endured hunger as well as the cold. All the food they had in all that time was a small white fish which was frozen in the ice. This they divided between them.

The eighteen men remaining after the nine floated off the small ice field made their way back to the abandoned brig, which was tightly jammed in the ice, and was carried with it. All expected to die in her and some of them had lost their senses before reaching her the second time. There were no stores on the brig and they subsisted on molasses a few oranges and edible scraps that could be found.

“… a schooner was seen four miles away…”

At length, one evening at sunset, a schooner was seen four miles away, which had been caught in the same field that imprisoned the brig. That night the half famished men held a council and determined to reach the schooner next day or die in the effort. Next morning at daylight they embarked in the brig’s small boat, which could scarcely hold them all, and after struggling through the ice nearly all day reached the schooner George S. Fogg and were saved. There they met the three survivors of their nine comrades who left them nearly two weeks before, the three singularly enough, having been saved by the same vessel that had rescued the other eighteen.

Captain Spence gave them plenty of food, and if the prayers of these grateful, honest, poor Irish fishermen can avail to make his future life prosperous, he will never want on this earth’s stores.

The twenty one fishermen and crew of seven over crowded the little schooner, but the Captain had food enough for all, and all the discomfort that they experienced was from their circumscribed quarters. Some of the more robust of the party perished, and some of the more frail escaped, among them the boy James Grace.

The survivors were later transferred to a larger passing steamship, the Nurnberg, on route to Baltimore, Maryland.

To a question as to how the news would be received in St. Mary’s, Mooney replied, as he brushed a tear away, there is now mourning in every household, for they do not know that any of us are saved. He said that he had six children, and that some of those who had died have families equally as large.

Names of those from St. Mary’s who perished:

The names of the men who perished on the ice were: John Poole, Michael Poole, James Vale, Michael Waile (Vale) , Thomas Boone, Patrick Dobbin, Gregory Rouser, (Rousell)  John Rouser (Rousell) and Patrick Waile (Vale) . Michael and Patrick Waile (Vale)  were father and son Gregory and John Rouser (Rousell)  were father and son.

The unmarried men were Joseph Grace, Patrick Leatham, Michael Barre (Barry) , and William Boone.

Names of those from St. Mary’s brought to Baltimore:

Andrew Mooney and Thomas Mooney, brothers; William Ruben; Patrick and William Tobin, brothers; John Fuer (Furey), James Grace (aged 14) whose brother Joseph Grace perished, James Peddle, Thomas Barre (Barry) , perished, and Benjamin Sancrow (St. Croix).

The ten Newfoundlanders were taken in charge by the British Consul on (March 29,1875) and were sent home in the Caspian, which  travelled between to Halifax  and Baltimore.

Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms Provincial Archives: GN 20/1 March 29, 1875, Baltimore Sun: Thrilling Story of the Sea. Adventure of thirty four men.

 

The Janeway Child and Rehabilitation Centre – An Impossible Dream Hospital

An Impossible Dream Hospital

The Old Janeway Hospital;

In August 1966, the Charles A. Janeway Child Health Centre opened and became a referral centre for all sick children in the province and became an affiliated hospital of Memorial University of Newfoundland Medical School. Before Confederation, child health care in Newfoundland and Labrador was below standards when compared to other Canadian provinces.

After Confederation some improvements were made particularly in public health but Dr. Cliff Joy, a pediatrician in 1958 felt that the hospital treatment of children was below standard and the province lacked a central referral centre for sick children. He advocated for a central free standing Child Health Centre in the Province.

In 1960 the Americans closed Pepperrell and made the base hospital available to the Province. The Newfoundland Medical Association, the Premier, the March of Dimes and the Rehabilitation Community wanted the Pepperrell hospital to be a Rehabilitation Centre.  Dr. Joy persisted and because of several events and the support of a several prominent Canadian and American pediatricians was able to persuade  Premier Joey Smallwood to make the Pepperrell Hospital a Child Health Centre.

Please join The Newfoundland Historical Society on Thursday, March 30 for the Newfoundland Historical Society’s monthly lecture. In this lecture, Dr. Rick Cooper will trace this story of the Janeway hospital, and the development of child health care in Newfoundland.

Born in St. John’s, Dr. Rick Cooper has been a pediatrician at Memorial University since 1974. He has conducted extensive research on the development of child health care in Newfoundland during the twentieth century, and has a forthcoming publication on the history of the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre (Boulder Publications).

Location: Hampton Hall, Marine Institute, Ridge Road, St. John’s

Date: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Time: 8pm

Admission is free.

Parking: Free parking is available in front and to the west of the building.

Please circulate this notice to family, friends and colleagues.

The NHS hosts FREE lectures on the last Thursday of the months of September, October, November, January, February, March and April. For more information:

Tel: (709)722-3191

E-mail: nlhistory@gmail.com

http://www.nlhistory.ca/

 

Who was that bastard?

March 8, 1949

On March 8, 1949, a poem was published in the St. John’s newspaper The Evening Telegram, in honour of Sir Gordon MacDonald (Governor of Newfoundland from 1946 to 1949). The poem sang the praises of the Governor and of his work in Newfoundland. But it was a poem that had a twist.

Governor MacDonald had many detractors; there were many that disliked him and his politics. As Governor of Dominion Newfoundland, on arrival in 1946 he also took responsibility as Chair of the unelected Commission of Government that governed the dominion. It was he that oversaw the election of the Newfoundland National Convention in 1946, and the holding of two referendums in 1948, which led to Newfoundland becoming a province of Canada in March 1949.

There  were also suggestions that  he violated the principle of vice -regal impartiality  as the crown’s representative  and promoted sectarianism  by getting up in the pulpit at George Street United Church in St. john’s  and instructing the congregations  that “Last time (referendum) the Roman Catholics had their say; this time (the second referendum) it’s our turn.”

The poem was published two days after MacDonald left the Island:

The poem titled   “A Farewell!” reads:

The prayers of countless thousands sent

Heavenwards to speed thy safe return,

Ennobled as thou art with duty well performed,

Bringing peace, security and joy

Among the peoples of this New Found Land.

So saddened and depressed until your presence

Taught us discern and help decide what’s best for

All on whom fortune had not smiled.

Remember if you will the kindness and the love

Devotion and the respect that we the people have for Thee – Farewell!

A few weeks after the poem was published The Evening Telegram editors discovered that the poem was actually an acrostic with the first letters of each line spelling “THE BASTARD”

The reading public in St. John’s in 1949 would have been amused  that the word found its way into print.   Most were also shocked that a writer or writers  had been able to pull the wool over the eyes of the usually eagle eyed Telegram Editor CEA Jeffries.

Editors typically hold strict standards on profanities; it was not for example until 2014 that the prestigious New York Times updated of its style guide allowing for even the mildest vulgarities.

There has been much speculation about who wrote the poem  but credit is now attributed to  Gracie Sparkes  working with her friends  Jack Higgins  and R.S. Furlong.   Gracie  Sparkes  (1908 – 2003)  was  fierce anti-Confederate  as were her  friends Jack Higgins and Furlong.

What is a bastard?

There was a time that bastard was not an insulting term . Around the time when bastard first appeared in English William the Conqueror was known also as William the Bastard. No insult was intended, he was William the Bastard because his parents hadn’t been married.

Bastard first made it into print as an insult in 1830.

The root of the word (bastard) is from Old French and grew out of bast, the name for a packsaddle, which was the structure used to load packs onto a mule. Travelers with romantic intention and opportunity may not have had a convenient bed nearby so the blankets and saddle would serve as bedding and pillow. Thus children, who were not conceived in the marriage bed, were said to be conceived “on the bast” and were therefore bastards.

What happened to Sheelagh’s Day?

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 18

The final brush of snow is on the way

The final brush of snow is on the way

In Newfoundland and Labrador there has been a long established tradition to refer to the day following St. Patrick’s Day  as  Sheelagh’s Day.

As early as 1819,  the Anglican Missionary and historian Lewis Anspach who wrote the first general history of Newfoundland wrote:

“It is hardly in the power of any priest in the world to hinder an Irishman from getting gloriously drunk, if he is so inclined, on the whole of the 17th of March, as well as the next day in honour of Sheelagh….”

The St. John’s newspaper, The Newfoundlander on reporting on the celebrations of the members of Benevolent Irish Society in St. John’s on March 17, 1829 wrote:

The company continued to retire, successively, until six o’clock on Sheelagh’s morning, (March 18) at which hour, we understand, a few of the campaigners might have been seen, as usual, piously and patriotically employed in “drowning the shamrock.”

Sheelagh (also Sheila, Sheilah, Sheelah) in Irish folk legend is somewhat of a mystery she is variously described as the wife, sister, housekeeper or acquaintance of St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.

In Newfoundland few refer to March 18 by her name day; nowadays her name is only invoked with reference to any storm that takes place on or shortly after March 18 – the storm being referred to as Sheelagh’s Brush.

So ingrained in the Newfoundland psyche is the association of with Sheelagh and the last storm of the winter season  that the fishing fleets were reluctant to put out their gear and the sealing fleets were reluctant to take to the ice preferring to wait until after Sheelah’s Brush had passed.

Sheila’s Brush typically brings a heavy snowfall. The snow is attributed to Sheila’s sweeping away of the last of winter. But, once the brush blows through  – it signals that Spring is just around the corner.

Pity her name is not invoked as it was in our past. It is time to reclaim March 18 to give this day, the traditional name, Sheelagh’s Day.

Sláinte!

Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives  take some time to look at MG 612  the BIS  collection  it consists of minutes of  the BIS (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Museum Exhibit:  take some time to see: Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground , an exhibition  at The Rooms, that introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

 

Do you know about Patrick’s Pot?

imagesCAF5JTEEArchival Moment

March 17 (Tradition)
One of the earliest and best accounts of daily life at the Labrador fishery can be found in Nicholas Smith’s book ‘Fifty-two Years at the Labrador Fishery’. In his book he makes reference to a  Newfoundland, St. Patrick’s Day tradition,  that is no more.

Smith writes:

“The ice was very heavy and in large sheets; consequently slow progress was made for the first few days, but on March 17th, St Patrick’s Day, Captain William  …  called everybody at daylight to get out to their ‘Patrick’s Pot’ as we were among the seals, and plenty of them.”

In Newfoundland and Labrador a ‘Patrick’s Pot’  suggests a ‘windfall’ in terms of sealing jargon it referred to a seal herd spotted on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). When spotted especially on St. Patrick’s Day there would be much excitement.

St. Patrick’s Day would have been early in the  ‘sealing season’ and a good omen. The herd would represent a portion of the sealers salary for the year.

Patrick’s Pot or Paddy’s Pot had another meaning for children, when visiting relatives on St. Patrick’s Day silver coins were traditionally given to children, the coins given were referred to as Paddy’s Pot. In the Folk and Language Archive at Memorial University is found reference to this tradition in interviews that were conducted with informants.   One gentleman reported when giving a coin to a child the person typically said:  “and here’s a Paddy’s Pot for ye, me little colleens.’

Wishing you the very best on St. Patrick’s Day. May you find your pot?

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives read the journal of Dr. William Waddell (MG 1006.1). The journal documents a typical sealing voyage including a description of the vessel and role of the crew.

Recommended Reading: Fifty-two Years at the Labrador Fishery (London: Arthur H. Stockwell, 1936.

Recommended Activities: The Irish Newfoundland Association as part of their 40th Annual Irish Week Celebrations are proud to work with other organizations to celebrate our Irish culture.   Click here for an UPDATED calendar of Irish related events: http://archivalmoments.ca/2017/03/irish-week-events-calendar-2017/

“Drowning the shamrock”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 17

Photo Credit: “Drowning the Shamrock” Illustrated London News, March 19, 1853

Photo Credit: “Drowning the Shamrock” Illustrated London News, March 19, 1853

The St. John’s newspaper, The Newfoundlander reporting on the celebrations of the members of Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) in St. John’s on March 17, 1829  wrote:

The company continued to retire, successively, until six o’clock on Sheelagh’s morning, (March 18) at which hour, we understand, a few of the campaigners might have been seen, as usual, piously and patriotically employed in “drowning the shamrock.”

The  Newfoundland tradition called “drowning the shamrock” takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, when the shamrock that has been worn in the hat or lapel is removed and put into the last drink of the evening.

A toast is proposed and then, when the toast has been honored, the shamrock is taken from the bottom of the glass and thrown over the left shoulder.

Time to bring back the tradition of ‘drowning the shamrock.’

Sláinte!

Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives  take some time to look at MG 612  the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) collection. This collection consists of  the minute books  of  the BIS (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Museum Exhibit:  take some time to see: Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground , an exhibition  at The Rooms, that introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recommended Activities: The Irish Newfoundland Association as part of their 40th  Annual Irish Week Celebrations are proud to  work with other  organizations to  celebrate our Irish culture.   Click here for an UPDATED  calendar of Irish related events: http://archivalmoments.ca/2017/03/irish-week-events-calendar-2017/

 

 

 

 

Irish Week Events Calendar 2017

Photo Credit: Sheilagh O’Leary

Photography Exhibit

Local photographer and St. John’s city councillor Sheilagh O’Leary’s exhibit  “Twinning Lines” featuring  portraits of Irish and Newfoundland subjects who share a last names is on exhibit  at City Hall in St. John’s  in the Great Hall (main foyer) for Irish week and into April.  Sponsor: City of St. John’s.

For more information: 709) 576-8106  E-mail: tourism@stjohns.ca

 

Friday, March 17th

2:00 p.m.   BIS Harvey Road: Music by Smart Sound

Soup & Rolls

Sponsor: Benevolent Irish Society, 30 Harvey Road, St. John’s

For more information: Phone: (709) 754-0570, email address bis1806@yahoo.com

 

Friday, March 17th

8:00 pm

Kerry Irish group “Causeway Delight”

Sponsor: Irish Newfoundland Association)

“Causeway Delight” are the current reigning All-Ireland Wrenboy Champions of Ireland. They have travelled to several and various venues, in villages and towns around the Ireland. The majority of the group are also members of CCE (Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann).

You can have a look at a YouTube clip of the Wrenboy competition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev8G4LWuwAA

Location: BIS Club Rooms,  30 Harvey Road, St. John’s

Sponsor: http://irishnewfoundlandassociation.ca/

For more information: Phone: (709) 754-0570, email address bis1806@yahoo.com

Irish Exhibit

Talamh an Éisc: The Fishing Ground   The Rooms Level 4

This exhibition introduces the Irish who have been here since the late 1600s. It examines the communities they built and the contributions they have made. Find out why so many people describe themselves as Irish Newfoundlanders. Newfoundland is the only place outside of Europe that boasts an Irish place name—Talamh an Éisc or Land of the Fish. And of course there are the thousands of descendants of Irish immigrants living all over the island.  Sponsor: The Rooms

 

Saturday, March 18th

7:00 pm – Closing

Annual St Patrick’s BIS Dinner & Dance – Music by Smart Sound

(Tickets Available at Bar) BIS

Sponsor: Benevolent Irish Society, 30 Harvey Road, St. John’s

For more information: Phone: (709) 754-0570, email address bis1806@yahoo.com

 

Sunday, March 19th

10:30 am

Touton Breakfast

Sponsor: Benevolent Irish Society

Location:  BIS Clubrooms, 30 Harvey Road

For more information: Phone: (709) 754-0570, email address bis1806@yahoo.com

 

Sunday, March 19th

2:00 pm

Kitchen Party and the public is invited

 

BIS Kitchen Party (All Welcome)

Music by Smart Sound

Soup & Sandwiches

Sponsor: Benevolent Irish Society, 30 Harvey Road, St. John’s

For more information: Phone: (709) 754-0570, email address bis1806@yahoo.com