St. George’s Day

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

April 23, 2013

St. George’s Day

St. George's Feast Day is April 23 but the holiday is on Monday, April 22.

St. George’s Feast Day is April 23 but the holiday is on Monday, April 21.

St. George’s Day is provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, observed on the Monday nearest April 23rd.

In Newfoundland and Labrador the holiday was born out of our sectarian history. The Roman Catholic’s of this place laid claim to St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland and the Protestants laid claim to St. George, Patron of England.

As a saint, or even a historical person, St. George and his exploits are of doubtful authenticity, the most popular of the legends that have grown up around him relates to his encounter with the dragon. A pagan town in Libya was victimized by a dragon (representing the devil), which the inhabitants first attempted to calm down by offerings of sheep, and then by the sacrifice of various members of their community. The daughter of the king (representing the Church) was chosen by lot and was taken out to await the coming of the monster, but George arrived, killed the dragon, and converted the community to Christianity.

Saint George has been adopted world wide as the saint fighting the evil and defending the good, in the end slaying the dragon (representing the evil).

King Richard I of England placed his crusading army under St. George’s protection, and in 1222 his feast was proclaimed a holiday. As the patron of England – it was only a matter of time that his patronage would also cover the  New found land with the arrival of our  English ancestors.

In Newfoundland and Labrador the tradition of St. George is not only confined to his feast day (April 23) but he also presents as one of the characters in the old mummering plays, historically performed over the Christmas season.  In the mummering play he fights hand-to-hand with a Turkish Knight emerging as the hero.

In 1497, during the reign of Henry VII, the pennant of the Cross of St. George was flown by John Cabot when he sailed to Newfoundland.  It was also traditional to wear a red rose on the lapel on St. George’s Day.

Interesting that St. George is the Patron of England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Gozo, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, and Portugal but only Newfoundland and Labrador honour the day with a holiday.

A great place to live!

The most widely recognized St George’s Day symbol is St George’s cross. This is a red cross on a white background, which is often displayed as a flag. It is used as England’s national flag, forming part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Recommended Website:   St George’s Day.com  the website offering information on all things English, that celebrates English Heritage and actively promotes St George’s Day on the 23rd April.  http://www.stgeorgesday.com/

 

Newfoundland Mustang the First

Archival Moment

April 17, 1964

Stanley Tucker with the first Mustang at Signal Hill.

Stanley Tucker with the first Mustang at Signal Hill.

There was a bit of excitement at George Parson’s Ford dealership in St. Johns on April 17, 1964, a crowd of people were at the dealership looking at a Wimbledon White convertible with the 260 cubic-inch V-8, it was the first time that any of them had seen a Mustang.

In the crowd was Stanley Tucker, an airline captain with Eastern Provincial Airlines (EPA)  based out of St. Johns.  Tucker, fell in love with the car and told George Parsons dealership agent Harry Philips  he wanted to buy that Mustang. Philips originally hesitated wanting to hold on to the car to get a little more publicity out of it. When Tucker came with a check in hand the next day, Parson’s sold the car to Captain Tucker.

Tucker at the time did not know it but  he had unknowingly purchased Mustang #1, the very first Mustang off the assembly line.  In an interview with Mustang Monthly Magazine years later Tucker said:

 “For a long time, I was the only Mustanger in Newfoundland. It was quite an experience. Many times, other motorists would force me to the side of the road and ask me about the car – what it was, who made it, how did I like it and how much did it cost? The car has been a real joy to own and drive. Getting into it is something like slipping into the cockpit, and I feel as much a part of the machine as I do when I’m flying.”

Not long after Tucker unknowingly purchased the now-historic car, representatives from Ford learned that their Canadian promotional vehicle, the first-ever Mustang, had been let loose. Ford wanted the car back, but Tucker wanted to drive it. Tucker drove the car about St. John’s for nearly two years, putting 10,633 miles on the odometer.

Meanwhile, Mustang sales blossomed. Before Mustang, Falcon held the Ford record of building a million vehicles in two years, 16 days. Mustang broke that record by reaching the million mark in one year, 11 months, and 24 days.

As Ford prepared for the millionth Mustang celebration, a Ford official made Captain Tucker an offer: In exchange for the first Mustang, Ford would trade the millionth Mustang. At the millionth Mustang celebration in Dearborn, Michigan on March 2, 1966, Tucker stood at the end of the assembly line with a Ford executive and accepted his new car.

While Tucker posed with the millionth Mustang, a white convertible, he didn’t actually receive that car. Tucker had earlier placed an order with George Parson’s Ford in St. Johns for a 1966 Silver Frost convertible with a black top.

Meanwhile, the white Mustang #1 with VIN 5F08F100001 once again became property of Ford Motor Company. The Mustang that only knew Newfoundland roads is now at home in the Henry Ford Museum.  In 1987, the car went on permanent display in the “Automobiles in American Life” exhibit, still sporting the 1965 Newfoundland and Labrador license plates.

Hot cross bun, only on Good Friday!!

Archival Moment

GOOD FRIDAY, 1869

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

On Good Friday in 1869  Edward Morris, the Manager of the Newfoundland Savings Bank  went out for his daily constitutional,  a walk about the town of St. John’s.  He interrupted his walk, deciding to drop in on his friend Robert Kent.  Upon arriving at the house, he discovered that his friend was out but his father (Jimmy) was at home, in a heated argument with the servant of the house.

In his diary Edward Morris explained.

“I found  (Jimmy) disputing with the servant about a bun which she was giving him as a cross bun, he seemed very dubious, as indeed he might, for it was one of the old familiar type of common penny buns”.

This was not a small matter in 1869. Good Friday was a day of fast,  but one of the treats, on this day, was what we now call a hot cross bun.  Jimmy Kent  was not to be deprived of his “cross bun”  for  the inferior  “penny bun’.

Edward Morris had to play the referee. He wrote in his diary:

However, as I was appealed  to  for a decision , I was obliged, for expediency sake, to compromise  myself by saying  it was very like Lash’s Cross Buns and that seemed to reconcile poor Jim to the deception”

Advertisement in the Evening Telegram, St. John's, April 1919.

Advertisement in the Evening Telegram, St. John’s, April 1919.

Lash’s Cross Buns were  sold by J and G Lash a Confectionary Store on Water Street.

The Hot Cross Bun is the most famous, and probably the oldest, of the many English buns.  The Hot Cross Bun was originally eaten only on Good Friday.

According to tradition, Father Rocliff, a monk and the cook of St. Alban’s Abbey, in Hertfordshire, on Good Friday in 1361 gave to each poor person who came to the abbey one of ‘these spiced buns marked with the sign of the cross’, along with the usual bowl of soup. The custom was continued and soon spread throughout the country.

Hot Cross Buns became enormously popular in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if one recites the ditty:

 “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be”

Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.

Recommended Archival Collection:  Edward Morris Diary, 1869. Archives  of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

For more on Food on “Good Friday” read:  Only “fish” on Good Friday: http://archivalmoments.ca/2014/04/is-seal-flipper-meat-or-fish/

Definition: A Penny Loaf was a common size loaf of bread in England set down by the Assize of Bread Act in 1226. The actual cost and weight of the bread, however, would vary based on the flour that had been used.

Definition: The Assize of Bread Act was a 13th-century statute (assize) in late medieval English law, which regulated the price, weight and quality of the bread and beer manufactured and sold in towns, villages and hamlets. It was the first law in British history to regulate the production and sale of food.

Is seal flipper, meat or fish?

ARCHIVAL MOMENT 

What to eat on Good Friday? 

Seal Flipper Pie

Seal Flipper Pie

The question has long been a thorny theological issue: is  “seal flipper pie”  meat or fish. It’s an important question because this Friday is ” Good Friday”, and on the menu in many households and restaurants in this province will be “flipper pie”

Good Friday is the day Catholics and others Christians commemorate Jesus’s death on the cross. It’s a day by tradition that most  people abstain from eating meat.  Fish tends to be the meal of choice for Good Friday.

The inclusion of seals within the category of “fish” is a most difficult issue for the more pious or traditional  in the community.

Those that are convinced that seal flipper pie can be served as fish do have some convincing historical  - doctrinal evidence to stand on.

As early as 1555,  the Swedish scholar and Catholic Bishop, Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), last Catholic Archbishop of Uppsala,  (Sweden)  in his history  (Historia de gentibus septenrionalibus. ) wrote that  in Sweden seal flesh was regarded as fish during Lent and eaten on Good Friday.

Research at the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archives indicates seal flippers are classed as fish.

In many Newfoundland and Labrador communities Catholics have been by tradition permitted to eat “flipper pie” during Lent which coincided with the seal-hunt. Local legend says a Pope, through the local bishop, once declared the seal to be a fish so that during Lent and on meatless Fridays, Newfoundlanders had a better chance avail of this “seasonal”  food source.

It has to be true. In a commentary on Bill C-45:  “An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada’s seacoast and inland fisheries”  federal government officials in the commentary on the document wrote.

“The inclusion of seals within the category of “fish” stems from a long tradition, possibly explained by the ruling of the Church of Newfoundland that seals were fish, “so that even the most pious Newfoundlander can eat seal meat on Friday or during Lent.” 

According to the Code  of Canon Law (1917)  some interpretations  of certain of these church laws suggest that animals associated with water are allowed to be eaten during Lent, such as beaver, otter and frogs. This might also explain why traditionally, in Bay Bulls and the communities of the Southern Shore of Newfoundland that  turrs and sea ducks could be eaten on Fridays in Lent.

So, what will be on your plate on Good Friday?

Perhaps you should consider a “Hot Cross Bun” on Good Friday.  Read More: http://archivalmoments.ca/2013/03/hot-cross-bun-only-on-good-friday/

“The Titanic has struck a berg”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

April 14, 1912

On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York. At that time, she was the largest and most luxurious ship ever built. At 11:40 PM on April 14, 1912, she struck an iceberg about 400 miles off Newfoundland. Although her crew had been warned about icebergs several times that evening by other ships navigating through that region, she was traveling at near top speed of about 20.5 knots when one grazed her side.

In 1912, the Marconi wireless radio was still in its infancy state as far as utilization. Marconi operators, Harold Bride and Jack Philips  on the direction of the ships Captain  (Smith)  put on the headphones and immediately began tapping out CQD – MGY … CQD – MGY  which translates  to CQD = Come Quick Danger or  attention all stations, D =  distress or danger, and MGY was the Titanic’s radio call letters.

Walter Gray, Jack Goodwin and Robert Hunston were serving at the Marconi Company wireless station at Cape RaceNewfounldand  400 miles west of Titanic.  The wireless news was being handled by them.

TWO FRIENDS: THEIR  LAST CONVERSATION

It would have been a very difficult night for Walter Gray at Cape Race.  The Marconi operator on the Titanic was his good friend Jack Philips.  Jack had been the last person that he had seen in England before he had departed for Newfoundland.  Walter had been excited all the day of April 14 – he was waiting anxiously at Cape Race waiting for the Titanic and his good friend Jack to come within ‘hearing” distance of Cape Race.   Walter later wrote:

“That evening I held brief conversation with Philips. He emphasized the magnificence of the vessel, the wonderful group of passengers and the good time being had by all.

Later in the evening the second operator (Hunston) called out “Mr. Gray the Titanic has struck an iceberg and is calling C.Q.D. (COME QUICK DANGER)  I immediately dropped what I was doing and ran to the operating room.

Donning the headphones, I heard Philips call for help using both distress calls, C.Q.D. and the newly-introduced S.O.S. His call included the ship’s position in Latitude and longitude, weather conditions, and the story of striking the berg. When he ceased, I called the Titanic and inquired whether I could assist in any way. Philips thanked me and asked me to stand by.

A short time after 2:00 a.m. a very weak distorted signal was heard and the “Virginian” being much closer picked up what they thought was Philips voice trying to get a message out and that was the last word from the radio operator, Philips.”

Less than three hours later, the Titanic plunged to the bottom of the sea, taking more than 1500 people with her. Only a fraction of her passengers were saved. The world was stunned to learn of the fate of the unsinkable Titanic.

Water Gray’s good friend Jack Philips was one of those that perished.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division: The Cape Race Log Book:  A journal of predominantly one line entries highlighting events of local, national and international interest, as maintained by various members of the Myrick family at Cape Race and Trepassey.  Includes reference to the sinking of the Titanic.

Recommended Web Site: 100 Year  Later: Titanic in the Archives (The Rooms Provincial Archives Division)  http://www.therooms.ca/titanic/

Recommended Reading:  The Life Story of An Old Shetlander, Walter J. Gray, Shetland Times, 1970.

Why are they celebrating mass in the hills?

Archival Moment

April 13, 1829

Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore Oral history purports that Mass Rock was the site of secret Catholic gatherings.

Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore Oral history purports that Mass Rock was the site of secret Catholic gatherings.

On April 13, 1829 a significant milestone in Irish history was reached when King George IV reluctantly gave royal assent to the Roman Catholic Relief Act.

This Act effectively removed a series of laws known as Penal Laws or Popery Laws that severely limited the ability of a Catholic to do anything.

Some of the laws included:

•     Forbid a Catholic from exercising his religion

•     Forbid the Catholic from receiving a Catholic education

•     Forbid the Catholic from entering a profession

•     Forbid the Catholic from holding Public Office

•     Forbid the Catholic from owning a horse worth more than 5 pounds

•     Forbid the Catholic from buying or leasing land

•     Forbid the Catholic from voting

•     Forbid the Catholic from receiving a gift or inheritance of land from a Protestant

•     Forbid the Catholic from renting any land that was worth more than thirty shillings

•     Forbid the Catholic from sending their children abroad for an education

Upon receipt of the news that the Penal Laws had been struck down Bishop Thomas Scallan in St. John’s, Newfoundland declared 21 May a day of public thanksgiving.  In St. John’s and other major towns throughout the island, bands, parades, and special church services evidenced the pleasure of Catholics that the penal restrictions of centuries had been lifted.

However, their joy was short-lived; by December the colony’s attorney general, James Simms, and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland had concluded that the relief bill was inoperative in the colony of Newfoundland.  Catholic emancipation did not finally come to Newfoundland until the proclamation of representative government and the calling of the first elections on 26 August 1832.

It was during the years when the Penal Laws were in effect that traditions such as the Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore and  Pulpit Rock in the Torbay area  were developed. Oral history purports that Mass Rock  and Pulpit Rock were  the site of secret Catholic gatherings. Disguised priests and settlers would gather to celebrate mass or say prayers while lookouts were stationed at vantage point to spot English authorities. While no official record exists of the activities at Mass Rock and Pulpit Rock , a legendary cycle regarding the sites  continues to exists.

Archival Collection: To explore some of the issues that were being discussed read the Colonial Office Records (CO 194 -678-83) Governor Cochrane’s Correspondence at The Rooms Provincial Archives.

Recommended Reading: Irish In Newfoundland 1600-1900 by Michael McCarthy, Creative Book Publishing, St. John’s, 1999. This book paints a vivid picture of the Irish experience from the early days of anti-Catholic persecution in Newfoundland when a house could be burned to the ground simply because Mass had been said there.

Recommended Website: Laws in Ireland for the Suppression of POPERY commonly known as the PENAL Laws.  Read More:  http://library.law.umn.edu/irishlaw/index.html

Exiles in Boston join in the sorrow of thousands of Newfoundlanders

Archival Moment

April 12, 1914

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50 . Bodies of sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50 . Bodies of sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

The news of the death of the 78 sealers who died during the sealing campaign March 31 – April 2,  1914 made international headlines.  Messages of sympathy were being sent to the local government and local newspapers from throughout the world.

The people of the Boston area responded not only with letters of condolence but also with offers of financial assistance to help the families who had lost a loved one.

P.A. Buckey, a Newfoundlander who had emmigrated to Lynn, Massachusetts wrote:

It is with the deepest regret that the Newfoundlanders who reside in Boston have heard of the terrible calamity that has befallen our Island home. The first news received in itself was terrifying but when later messages announced the possible loss of the Southern Cross with 173 souls on board, the Newfoundlanders of Boston assembled decided to take immediate action in making necessary arrangements to help the bereaved so a public meeting of all Newfoundlanders was called for shall now business transacted.”

Buckey reported that on April 12, 1914:

  “a masss meeting of Newfoundlanders in Boston, ladies included assembled in the Paine Memorial Hall, Appleton Street to devise any means of providing a relief fund to help the families of our stricken countrymen at home.  Fully 500 Newfoundlanders were present which showed the sympathy expressed for our loved ones. Upon entering the hall each one was eagerly scanning at each other, either to form an acquaintance or to meet a friend that they have not seen but known since childhood days.  A reunion of Newfoundlanders such as it was never seen in Boston before, and the one topic of discussion was the dreadful tragedy that left so many homeless, destitute and fatherless.”

The meeting was chaired by another Newfoundlander who had emigrated to the Boston area James P. McCormack  of East Cambridge.  The aim of the gathering he explained was for the Committee to raise at least $20,000 that would be given over to the Newfoundland Marine Disaster Fund.

$20,000.00 in 1914 had the same buying power as $466,098.00 in 2014.

Among the ex-patriot Newfoundlanders attending the meeting were FitzGerald’s, Mansfield’s, Curley’s,  Power’s, Cantwell’s, Somerville’s, Hogan’s, Mulcathy’s, Molloy’s Kelly’s, O’Rourke’s, Halleran’s, Puddister’s, Williams, and O’Connell’s.  Also among the crowd were Bemister’s of Carbonear; Moulton’s  of the West Coast; Farrell’s  of Ferryland and Vinnicombe’s of St. John’s.

Newfoundland has had a long relationship with the Boston States.  Although Newfoundland and Labrador people moved to other countries for a wide range of reasons 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.

The largest concentrations of emigrants were going to Boston and other Massachusetts cities. Between 1885 and 1905, the number of Newfoundland and Labrador people living in Massachusetts jumped from 2,851 to 10,583.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts  census for 1915  reports that  there were 13, 269 Newfoundlanders in the Boston area.

Many of the men and women who attended the meeting on April 12,  1914 were  new emigrants to the Boston States. Newfoundlanders who were living in the Boston area but their hearts were in Newfoundland.  Before the meeting adjourned $560.00 was raised ($560.00 in 1914 has the same buying power as $13,050.74 in 2014) for the disaster fund.

Mr Buckely wrote:

  “We exiles in Boston join in the sorrow of thousands of Newfoundlander both at home and abroad.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the  Sealers Crew Agreement  and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross  is also included on this collection.

Recommended Reading:  PERISHED  by Jenny Higgins (2014)  offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  A first for the Newfoundland and Labrador publishing industry, as readers turn the pages of Perished they’ll find maps, log book entries, telegrams, a sealer’s ticket for the SS Newfoundland, and more that can be pulled out and examined.  These are the primary source materials that ignite the imagination of history buffs and students alike and are among more than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents that illustrate this amazing book. (NEW PUBLICATION)

Recommended Exhibit:  Death on the Front:  The Sealing Disaster 1914.  March 26 – November 16 – Level 3 Museum Alcove. This small display features artifacts from the Rooms Provincial Museum and archival imagery from The Rooms Provincial Archives connected to these tragedies. One of the artifacts featured is a  flag that was once flown on the Southern Cross. The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, using animation, survivor testimony and archival footage will be running as part of the Death at the Front exhibition. You can also view the short film from your own home at https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/