World Photo Day and Newfoundland and Labrador Collections

Archival Moment

August 19th, 1839

Photo Credit: The Rooms SP 1; Portrait of elderly man in cravat and gown (1860 and 1880] Daguerreotype portraiture was popular in Newfoundland in the 1840’s.

Photo Credit: The Rooms SP 1; Portrait of elderly man in cravat and gown (1860 and 1880]
Daguerreotype portraiture was popular in Newfoundland in the 1840’s.

August 19 is celebrated globally as World Photography Day. An annual worldwide celebration, the day is dedicated to the art, craft, science and history of photography. In the modern world, the World Photography Day aims to inspire photographers across the planet to share a single photo with a simple purpose of sharing their world with the world.

In Newfoundland photography was established as early as March 10th, 1843 with the following advertisement appearing in the local St. John’s paper the Public Ledger:

 Daguerreotype!

MESSERS William VALENTINE & Thomas DOANE beg leave to call the attention of the inhabitants of St. John’s and its vicinity, to an Art which has attained great celebrity and popularity in almost every city of Europe and America.

They have completed an apartment fitted for the purposes of Daguerreotype Portraiture, and have made other improvements and arrangements, by means of which they are confident of producing pictures of exquisite beauty.

The Daguerreotype Rooms, at the Golden Lion Inn, will be opened on MONDAY, at 10 o’clock, and will remain open daily from 10 to 4 o’clock. Persons unacquainted with the art, are respectfully invited to call at the Rooms, and examine Specimens.  Portraits taken in any state of the weather.

The first known photographs made around Newfoundland and Labrador were tied to the fishing industry. In 1857 Paul-Émile Miot, a French naval officer aboard the Ardent, captained by Georges-Charles Cloué, made photographs of the waters and land around Newfoundland and Labrador. Miot may have been the first to use photographs in the production of hydrographic maps.

During subsequent trips to Newfoundland, he also made a series of portraits that would be published as woodcuts in Le Monde illustré, Harper’s Weekly and Illustration. Important both for their practical information and as political tools, Miot’s images also provide evocative glimpses of Newfoundland’s past.

The first commercially available 35mm film camera was developed only 90 years ago. The digital camera became popular just 20 years ago and 20 years ago, camera phones didn’t exist. Today, everyone is impacted by the influence of photography.

Recommended Archival Collection: Search the online database to view thousands of digital photographs.  https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections  The Rooms is very interested in your photographic collections especially daguerreotype portraiture.  Talk to us about your collection.

Recommended Reading: Antonia McGrath, Introduction to Newfoundland Photography, 1849-1949 (St. John’s, NL: Breakwater Books, 1980).

 

Ode To Newfoundland

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

August 17, 1979

On August 17, 1979, Royal Assent was given to legislation adopting the Ode to Newfoundland as the official provincial anthem of the province of Newfoundland.

The  song  the “Newfoundland”  now known as the “Ode To Newfoundland” was sung for the very first time on January 21, 1902 at the Casino Theatre in St. John’s.  The local St. John’s newspaper, The Daily News, reported that  the new song was greeted enthusiastically.

The newspaper article reads:

 “Miss Frances Daisy Foster rendered with exquisite feeling a new song entitled “Newfoundland.” It proved a pleasant surprise and the general appreciation of it was marked by the audience joining spontaneously in the chorus.”

The “Ode to Newfoundland” was composed by Governor, Sir Cavendish Boyle, the original score was set to the music of E.R. Krippner, a German bandmaster living in St. John’s but Boyle desired a more dignified score. It was then set to the music of British composer Sir Hubert Parry, a personal friend of Boyle, who composed two settings.

The Daily News reporter knew that he had heard something special  when he heard the ‘Newfoundland’  being sung for the first time , he  wrote:   “he  (Boyle) has given us a poem which may be chosen as the Colony’s own anthem.”

On  June 21,1902  it was “resolved by the Committee of Council that the Ode “Newfoundland”, written by His Excellency Sir Cavendish Boyle, K.C.M.G., Governor of Newfoundland, with the musical setting by Professor E.R. Krippner, be approved, and officially recognized  as the Colonial Anthem.”  

That should have been it, all was required was the signature of the Governor.  The Governor however refused to sign. Arthur Mews, The Deputy Colonial Secretary of the day wrote:

“His Excellency (Governor Boyle) from motives of delicacy, did not formally approve the same at that time.”

The “delicacy’ was that  Governor Boyle was  both author of the Ode and Governor, it simply did not look proper that he sign off on his own Ode.

The Premier of the day, Sir Robert Bond, determined  that the Ode  become the official anthem suggested that given the hesitation of  Governor Boyle  that approval be  given by the Hon. W.H. Horwood, C.J. , Administrator of the Government.  But it was not to happen.

By 1904, the ‘Newfoundland’  had become firmly established, in the minds  of most people,  as the “official anthem”  of the Dominion of Newfoundland,  there was no Government function without the ‘Newfoundland’, it was sung at most public gatherings, in parish halls and concert halls.   It was so firmly established  that in the 1909 General Election, Robert Bond proposed that if elected he would be certain  to  make it the “official”  anthem of the country.

Bond lost the election.

Nothing was said of the official status of the Ode until 1972.   Frank Graham in his book  “We Love Thee Newfoundland” Biography of Sir Cavendish Boyle, wrote:

“At an event in St. John’s it was observed that a certain military group failed to observe protocol and the proprieties by coming to attention and showing the proper respect during the playing of Newfoundland’s anthem. The commanding officer was called on the carpet to explain the unseemly conduct of his men.  The officer defended himself and his group  by explaining that there was noting on the statue books to confirm the fact that the Ode  was Newfoundland’s Provincial anthem.  It transpired that he was right.”

In 1974  their was a resurgence of interest in making the Ode official, (driven by Lieutenant Governor, Gordon A. Winter,)  that resulted in the introduction  of the Provincial Anthem Act  for the Province of Newfoundland.  On May 2, 1975 the legislation  became official. It reads:

“The poem commonly called the Ode to Newfoundland, composed by Sir Cavendish Boyle, Governor of Newfoundland  from 1901 -1904, as it appears in the schedule is adopted as the provincial anthem of the Province of Newfoundland and shall be officially known and recognized as the Ode to Newfoundland.”

The Ode  to Newfoundland

When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills,
And summer spreads her hand,
When silvern voices tune thy rills,
We love thee, smiling land.

Refrain
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, smiling land.

When spreads thy cloak of shimmering white

at winter’s stern command

Through shortened days and

starlit nights we love thee frozen land

We love thee, we love thee, we love thee frozen land.

Refrain
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, frozen land.

When blinding storm gusts fret thy shores

and wild waves wash their strands,

Through spindrift swirls and tempest roars

we love thee windswept land,

We love thee, we love thee, we love thee

windswept land.

 Refrain
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, windswept land.

As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood, we stand;
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland

Refrain
God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland

Recommended Archival Collection: Take some time to look at  MG 956.110 at the Rooms;  this cover illustration featuring the Ode to Newfoundland depicts some of the iconic symbols and images of Newfoundland and Labrador. https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Book: “We Love Thee Newfoundland” Biography of Sir Cavendish Boyle, K.C.M.G. Governor of Newfoundland 1901 -1904 by Frank W. Graham.  Creative Printers, St. John’s, 1979.

Recommended Reading:  Geoff Butler, Ode to Newfoundland. Lyrics by Sir Cavendish Boyle. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2003.

 

Lady Day Fish; August 15th in Newfoundland

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

August 15, 1864

The fishing season began with the blessing of the boats by the clergy.

 In Newfoundland and Labrador, August 15 is better known as Lady Day.  On August 15 there is a long established tradition that the “catch of fish” on this day was to be given over to the church.

‘Lady Day,’ the fifteenth of August,   in some parts of the province signaled the end of the fishing season.  It  was not unusual for some fishermen to ‘give it up’  for the remainder of the summer.

On August 14, 1864 Bishop John Thomas Mullock, the Roman Catholic Bishop of St. John’s   “called on the people of the St. John’s  area  to fish for St. Patrick’s Church tomorrow”  Bishop Mullock was so determined to get the fishermen up and out fishing at an early hour that he put on a special mass in the Cathedral (now the Basilica) at 4:00 a.m. “for the people going to fish…”

August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, was one of the great feast days in the calendar of the Catholic Church. So important was this day that it was considered a Holy Day of Obligation, a day to  refrain  from work, a day demanding that the faithful attend Mass.

“LADY DAY” IN NEWFOUNDLAND

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, St. John’s, 1841 (now Basilica) .

When the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) was being constructed Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming of Newfoundland received in 1834 from Pope Gregory XVI,  the faculty to dispense the fishermen subject to his spiritual jurisdiction from the obligation of fasting on the vigils of saints.  This allowed Bishop Fleming to give permission to the fishermen to fish for the church on holy days, like Lady Day.  Bishop Fleming referred to himself as “the prelate of a congregation of impoverished fishermen.” 

Father Kyran Walsh (the priest in charge of the construction of the R.C. Cathedral (now Basilica) would collect Lady Day fish in the summer, and so raised the thousands of pounds that were needful to complete the Cathedral.

Lady Day in many communities became a day of celebration – at the end of the “fishing day” in some communities (especially in Placentia Bay) dinner and dances were held in the parish halls.

On August 19, 1944 one writer for the Western Star newspaper in Corner Brook, lamented that:

“The 15th of August passed by rather uneventfully. However, many sadly recalled the big celebrations it occasioned in days gone by, and would like to see it return to its former festivity.”

Rooms Tour: Fishing for Cod: You could say Newfoundland and Labrador exists because of cod fish. So many cod that at one time that you could literally dip your bucket over the side of your boat and fill a pail with fish.  For over 400 years the salt cod industry was the backbone of life in Newfoundland and Labrador. Generations of fishing men, women and children spent their lives “making fish.”

Come with us on a tour at The Rooms of two exhibitions, From This Place: Our Lives on Land and Sea and Here, We Made a Home, to learn about the salt cod trade in the province.

 

ROYAL REGATTA ROULETTE

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division: A54-150; Crowds at Quidi Vidi Lake for the Royal St. John’s Regatta.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

August 6, 2019

ROYAL REGATTA ROULETTE

The Royal St. John’s Regatta is the only civic holiday in Canada that is dependent on the weather. “The Regatta” has been traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August.

On the night before the Regatta the  residents of the historic city have the option to stay at home and have a quite night or “roll the dice” and party!!  The choice has become known as “Regatta Roulette.”

As residents party into the night, refreshment (s) in hand, there is always the lingering question, when I turn on the radio at 5:00 a.m. will the Royal Regatta officials say “IT IS A GO” or will it be a day at work?

An estimated 35,000 -50,000 people go to lake side at Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s  to enjoy the  races and the concessions.

 “… A ROWING MATCH WILL TAKE PLACE …”

The first documentation of boat races in St. John’s is taken from a very small notice in The Royal Gazette newspaper dated 1816:

 “We understand a rowing Match will take place on Monday next between two boats, upon which considerable Bets are depending. They are to start at half past One o’clock from along side the Prison Ship.”

–       The Royal Gazette, 6 August 1816

While this is not considered the official starting date of the Regatta, it does lend itself to the history, showing that boat racing did occur. The date the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee refers to as the official start date is 1818.

Since that time the Regatta has become a staple of Newfoundland history, and has run continuously every year since, with few exceptions. The Royal St. John’s Regatta itself is a curious entity. It is:

  • the only civic holiday in North Americato be declared by a committee of persons not associated with a government body;
  • the only civic holiday that is dependant on the weather;
  • the only competition where teams have to round buoys and return to the start line in order to finish the race;
  • one of only four organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador to be granted the Royal Designation (the others are The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and The Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club).

Will we get together for a drink  (tonight)  Tuesday night?  Will it be a quite night at home?   Regatta Roulette!

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division take some time to look at  “The Rowing”  Series  which consists of 212 b&w photographs predominantly of the Royal St. John’s Regatta races and crews, The photographs include team portraits, races underway, presentation of awards and views of the people along the shore of Quidi Vidi Lake.    Search the Archiveshttp://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

 

Crime thriller pairs police and archivist

Crime thriller pairs police and archivist

The Telegram (St. John’s)3 Aug 2019barbara.sweet@thetelegram.com Twitter: @Barbsweettweets BARB SWEET

Author Helen C. Escott based the archivist helping her new thriller’s main police investigator on The Rooms’ own Larry Dohey.

(St. John’s, NL)  There’s a new kind of crime fighter in the fictional world, and author Helen C. Escott based the archivist helping her new thriller’s main police investigator on The Rooms’ own Larry Dohey.

Dohey, director of programming and public engagement and author of the popular Archival Moments blog, makes his fictional debut as Larry Morgan in Escott’s book, in which Morgan helps main character Cpl. Gail Mcnaughton delve into the mystery of missing and murdered women cases dating back to the 1950s.

Dohey hadn’t had a chance to read the hot-off-the-press book yet when The Telegram spoke to him Friday. But reading a passage on page 28, when Mcnaughton first encounters Morgan, he laughed, “I’m not yet in my 60s.”

The rest of the physical description is pretty close to the real-life Larry — stylish with a distinct smile, accent and facial expressions.

“(His) hair was a mixture of greyish brown, with flecks of white in his sideburns. His square glasses sat on the end of his nose, and his broad smile made him look like your favourite teacher,” reads the depiction of Morgan.

Escott’s fictional take on the archivist is that he is the son of a murdered woman.

 “Archivists typically don’t make it into a book,” said Dohey.

All the time, though, they help researchers, writers, filmmakers and journalists with historical accuracy, and point them in the right direction to track down historical clues.

Dohey said that when Escott approached him, he offered a depiction of what was happening in rural Newfoundland in the 1950s and who would have been travelling around at the time.

“Apparently I just grew in her imagination and made it into the pages of the book,” said Dohey.

He was looking forward to reading the book and finding out how closely Morgan resembles him, but said, generally in literature, if archivists are mentioned, they are stereotyped as being elderly and dowdy, and with thick glasses.

“One thing I do love about this idea of an archivist being in the book is it gives us a chance to show the potential of archives, the contents of the archives and how they can be used by a writer or filmmaker,” Dohey said.

In the past, he has helped solved a few mysteries.

He helped track down the grave of an unknown Portuguese sailor who died in Newfoundland waters.

He also helped someone, after a lot of digging, prove their father-in-law was a First World War veteran.

Dohey is anticipating a little bit of teasing for his newfound notoriety, and had a good-natured response to whether, if he was ever offered, he would go for a TV series as a crime-fighting archivist.

“All of us archivists are always available to help in any way,” he said.

Escott said Larry Morgan wasn’t meant to be a character in the book, but after constantly going back and forth to do research on old newspapers and records, and the help she received from Dohey, she began to wonder, why haven’t the police used an archivist before to solve crime? She said it seems original to feature one in a crime thriller.

And Escott found Dohey so interesting, she had to put him in the book.

“It worked out really well, I got to say. It was meant to be,” she said.

The main character is named for Chris Macnaughton, an RCMP inspector who investigated the murder of St. John’s teenager Dana Bradley. Escott knew Macnaughton, who is now retired, from her career in media relations/communications, from which she is now retired as an RCMP civilian employee. (Bradley’s murder is still unsolved — she went missing on Topsail Road in December 1981 and her body was found in a wooded area off Maddox Cove Road.)

 The character Cpl. Gail Mcnaughton takes her first name from real-life Staff Sgt. Gail Courtney.

 Escott said she would talk to Macnaughton once a month to ensure authenticity, and she goes out of her way to make her characters real.

 The character Mcnaughton is caring for a mother with dementia.

 “I always make them real people with real problems,” Escott said.

 The major characters in “Operation Vanished” are also gay.

 Escott’s inspiration for the plot came from a fascination with fairy stories in Newfoundland and Labrador, originating from Ireland, Scotland and England, that often explained the disappearance or murder of women and children as being caused by fairies.

One such story revolved around a woman beaten beyond recognition, Escott said.

Though attributed by the community to the work of a fairy, in reality the woman was beaten by a relative, and as was often typical of the time, the crime was dismissed because she wasn’t from the community, the jailing of the man would leave his family destitute and women were too often dismissed as having deserved their fate.

Escott noted women were not officially persons until 1929, and even so, that never slowed the incidence of violence against them.

“There has never been a time when men were not considered persons under the law,” she said.

There were few women in the media in the 1950s to drive equal coverage, she noted, and when a woman did go missing, it would take a Mountie a day or two to reach the community.

Often women were just not considered important enough for crimes against them to be properly reported or pursued.

And so, the fairies were used to explain away the dark goings on in families — the fairies were said to not like streetlights and prefer isolated communities, Escott said.

 She hopes Morgan and Mcnaughton will one day team up with the RNC investigator from her first thriller, “Operation Wormwood,” in a future book.

 “Operation Vanished,” is published by Flanker Press.

 

Opera House in St. John’s

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 26, 1888

Advertisement: The Telegram, St. John’s, July 23, 1888.

There was much excitement in St.  John’s on Thursday, July 26, 1888   with the official opening of a “City Opera House.”

Throughout the week the local newspapers were advertising the highly anticipated opening with bold headlines that proclaimed   “A Grand Artistic Opening.”  The advertisements encouraged residents of St. John’s

“to reserve their tickets during the day, at J.W. Foran’s  Confectionary Store, Atlantic Hotel Building to avoid the crush at the Ticket office.”

The Tickets did not come cheap!!

Admission for Reserved Seats (Dress Circle) 75 cents; Orchestra Chairs, 50 cents; Gallery Chairs, 30 cents; Parquette, 20 Cents  and  the luxury  of a box seat a whopping $6.00.

The proprietor of the Opera House was the St. John’s businessman J.W. Foran who was well established at the J.W. Foran Confectionary Store in the Atlantic Hotel Building.  In his advertisements he stated:

“The proprietor of the city opera house (Mr. J. W. Foran) seeing the great want of a place of musical and dramatic talent, of which the rising generation have not had the advantage of hearing or seeing, has suited the opera house with all modern improvements, suitable for the production of entertainments of the very highest order – thus giving the people o St. John’s an opportunity of hearing some of the best musical talent in America. The establishment of such a space means a very large outlay, and it is to be hoped that the public will give it that substantial support which will warrant its permanency. The season will commence with the famous San Francisco Minstrels”

This talented group from San Francisco was under the management of Charles L. Howard. Engaged for a limited season only, the cost of transportation alone was nearly one thousand dollars. Before each performance, a Grand Balcony Serenade was to be given by the Silver Cornet Band.

Reviews of the performances during the following week stated that the

“minstrel’s are nightly drawing large and respectable audiences. They have advanced considerably in the estimation of our people since their first appearance which did not give the satisfaction anticipated and are steadily increasing in popularity.”

This was the first Opera House in St. John’s, but was not the first opera.

The first opera performed in Newfoundland, Thomas Linley’s The Duenna; or the Double Elopement, was presented in May 20, 1820 as a benefit for the victims of the great fire of 1817.   The Duenna is a three-act comic opera, was considered one of the most successful operas ever staged in England. Lord George Byron called it “the best opera ever written”).

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to look at MG 343.1  the script for Patience: a new & original aesthetic  an opera  written by W.S. Gilbert, Composed by Arthur Sullivan , 12 Apr. 1883. Item consists of Opera that was “given in aid of the poor by a number of amateur ladies and gentlemen at the Star of the Sea Hall, St. John’s”.

Recommended Virtual Exhibit:  How did a young girl from  an outport community on the  northeast coast of  Newfoundland gain  international recognition on  the stages of the world?  http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?lg=English&ex=00000469&fl=0&id=exhibit_home

Recommended:   Opera on the Avalon (OOTA)  is Canada’s newest opera company in the oldest city in North America.  OOTA presents the best of traditional opera and musical theatre, with engaging and powerful new theatrical productions, that are focused on topics and themes which resonate within our regional and international communities.   Opera on the Avalon:  http://operaontheavalon.com/about/

 

 

 

 

The young girls and the temptations of St. John’s

ARCHIVAL MOMENT    

July 17, 1883

Girls Friendly Society

Servants should “maintain a high standard of purity.”

Servants should “maintain a high standard of purity.”

On July 17, 1883 an independent chapter of Girls Friendly Society (GFS) was formally established in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The members of the Society were young women in domestic service. The primary goal of the society was to help the young domestic servants working in the big houses in St. John’s arrange recreational activities on their day off.

It appears that the original founders of the society were quite concerned about the young women, with all of the temptations that the city offered. Such was their concern that one of the activities of the individual branches of the GFS was to send members out to meet the new arrivals at the harbor or train station. If required the new arrivals would be offered assistance in obtaining lodging and work.

The GFS under its own constitution was determined that the domestic servants should “maintain a high standard of purity.” They were most determined to keep these young women of the streets and participating in respectable activities. One of the central rules was that “No girl who has not borne a virtuous character to be admitted as a Member; such character being lost, the Member to forfeit her card.”

gfscardThe constitution also stated that the GFS would “obtain for every working girl of unblemished character a friend in a class above her own.”

The Society was originally founded on January 1, 1875 in England. This group was affiliated with the Church of England and run along diocesan lines. The Archbishop of Canterbury was the first patron of the organization later being replaced by Queen Victoria.

A report in 1903 on the activities of the GFS in Newfoundland stated:

“In spite of storm and stress of weather, and long, cold evenings, the Members and Candidates seem to hold on their way with meetings and lectures, sales of work and classes, and their eagerness for books is quite touching.”  

By 1910 the GFS had expanded a report on the Society read:

“In Newfoundland the Society continues its successful work, and the Bishop (Church of England) has keen interest in it. There are four Branches and a large number of Candidates. Quarterly meetings, weekly social meetings, classes, lectures, etc. are held. There is still an energetic Members’ Committee at St. John’s, and the Anniversary is kept on the same day as in England.”

Recommended Reading: History of the Girls’ Friendly Society Compiles by Agnes L. Money. New and Revised Edition, 1911. London Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., LTD. 44 Victoria Street, Westminister, S.W. http://anglicanhistory.org/women/money_gfs1911/

July and the Weather Saint

Archival Moment

15 July 1881

July 15 Weather Watch

July 15 Weather Watch

St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain’

July month in Newfoundland was the month for the ‘excursionists’.  It was the month when most established organization’s would be in the process of planning excursions ‘around the bay’ for their members. The date on the calendar that the organizers for these excursions were watching was July 15.

July 15 in Newfoundland was traditionally known as St. Swithin’s Day, (or more properly, Swithun) a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin’s Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.

The residents of St. John’s, many of English ancestry were very familiar with the Elizabethan weather-rhyme:

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

The excursions were holiday outings by coastal vessels or train  to the Newfoundland outports, the most popular being Renews, Placentia and Trinity. Upon arrival in these villages the ‘townies’ would be greeted by the locals where they would be treated to a breakfast “after which the sports of the day would commence.”  Some of the ‘sports’ included horse  races, foot, hurdle and sack and wheelbarrow races, shooting matches and in the evenings dramatic entertainment and lantern shows .

Organizers for the excursions were disappointed to find on July 15, 1881 that it was a wet day.  The local St. John’s paper, The Evening Telegram reported.

“A wet St. Swithen’s Day. Oh, whatever trials are yet in store for excursionists this season.“

Organizers of the excursions were well aware that individuals would be less reluctant to reserve a spot on an excursion if inclement weather was anticipated.

Who was St. Swithin?

St. Swithin (or more properly, Swithun) was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches. A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors with the poor where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971.  According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

This led to the folklore tradition that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

How did the tradition get to Newfoundland?

Beginning in the early 17th century, immigrants from the West of England (mainly from Wessex) began to settle in Newfoundland. By the early 1800s they had founded numerous fishing villages and towns and comprised about 60 percent of the resident population. The Wessex component was the largest ethno-European group to settle Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of these immigrants (80-85%) originated in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset, with notable additions from the adjacent counties of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Cornwall.

Recommended Website: http://www.math.mun.ca/~wessex/wordpress/

Recommended Song:  Billy Bragg,  St. Swithin’s Day:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljJl-E5bzm4

 

Disturbing music on the streets of St. John’s

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

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

Archival Moment

July 10, 1903

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Editor offered a solution:

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

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

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

Imagine, it all started with complaints about the gramophone.

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

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

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

 

 

“The gravestones of the deceased are daily violated”

Archival Moment

July 4, 1848

Entrance to Belvedere Cemetery, St. John's.

Entrance to Belvedere Cemetery, St. John’s.

It was on July 4, 1848 that many of the citizens of the town of St. John’s were walking to the “outskirts of the town” to witness the blessing of new cemetery for the Roman Catholics.  Many attending the service were unhappy that their loved one’s would be interred so far out in the country.

Bishop John Thomas Mullock, the Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland wrote in his diary on July 4, 1848:

“Consecrated the cemetery at Belvedere … multitude present. High Mass afterwards in the Mortuary Chapel of All Saints.”

The leaders of all the churches in St. John’s had been given notice that the local government  was not happy with internments in the town of St. John’s and that they would have to seek burial ground further away from the livyers.

Up until 1849 all burials for all denominations were made in the town’s cemeteries. The Roman Catholic’s buried their dead in the Long’s Hill Cemetery located near what is now the site of the parking lot of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (The Kirk). The Church of England Cemetery was in the church yard of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist which borders on Duckworth Street, Church Hill, Cathedral Street and Gower Street.  The Wesleyan Cemetery was on the corner of Gower Street and Queen’s Road.

Discontent about the state of cemeteries within the boundary of the town of St. John’s began to surface shortly after the great fire of June 1846.

One of the effects of the Great Fire was reported in the Journal of the House of Assembly on July 14, 1846. The report stated:

 “Troops of starving dogs, infesting the town have become dangerous as well as to the living as to the dead; they have commenced desecrating the tombs of the cemetery …. And may be seen gnawing the bones of those who have been buried …. Pigs and goats infest in great numbers …. And the gravestones and monuments of the deceased are daily violated.”

One of the results of the Great Fire of 1846 was that all fencing and enclosures for farm animals had been destroyed by the fire allowing the farm animals including the goats and pigs to wonder about the town. Their favorite place to feed and graze was in the ‘downtown’ cemeteries.

On July 15, 1849 a Proclamation was issued by Governor, Sir J. Gaspard LeMarchant “forbidding any more burials within the city limits.”  The Governor was responding to the fears of town residents that epidemics such as cholera and typhus were resulting from the internment of the dead in the town. The argument was that as bodies of the newly interred decomposed in the town cemeteries, their diseases were seeping into the wells that were the source of the water supply for town.

Governor, Sir J, Gaspard LeMarchant argued:

 “as a very obvious method of improving the sanitary conditions of this town, I recommend having an act passed prohibiting  any internments in the limits of this town…. “

To get some indication as to how St. John’s has grown one only has to consider that the Belvedere property that our ancestors were walking to for the blessing of the cemetery in 1849  is now known as Belvedere Cemetery and is located between Bonaventure Avenue and Newtown Road.

It is no longer on the “outskirts of the town” no longer “in the country”.

There has been a long established tradition in  Newfoundland and Labrador  whereby families continue to attend to the cemetery plots of their loved one’s.   Typically a few days before the annual flower or liturgical service families  would gather to clean the  family plot.

2019 St. John’s and Area Cemetery Schedule

For flower services and or Liturgical Services.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery           Monday July 8th                 7:00pm

Mount Carmel Cemetery              Tuesday July 9th                 7:00pm

Kenmount Road Cemetery           Wednesday July 10th         7:00pm

Belvedere Cemetery                     Tuesday July 16 th            7:00pm

 Forest Road Cemetery                 Wednesday July 17th         7:30pm

St. Joseph’s Cemetery                   Thursday July 18th             7:00pm 
Petty Harbour

 General Protestant Cemetery     Monday July 22                7:00pm

Holy Sepulcher Cemetery             Tuesday July 23                  7:00pm

St. Kevin’s Cemetery                     Thursday July 25th         7:00pm
The Goulds

Recommended Archival Collection:  All of the churches have established archives that hold detailed records that will help you locate the grave site of a loved one buried in the cemeteries in this province