Lady Day Fish

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

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.”

 

“I was talking to all the boys belonging home …”

Archival Moment

August 10, 1915

Photo Credit: F 25-20: The Rooms Provincial Archives, Young Newfoundland Soldiers.

Photo Credit: F 25-20: The Rooms Provincial Archives, Young Newfoundland Soldiers.

The spirit of patriotism ran high throughout Newfoundland and Labrador in the early days of the First World War, families were proud that their sons signed up for the war effort and were only too happy to share any news that they heard from their boys overseas.

The Newfoundland newspapers of the day, especially the Evening Telegram, were aware of the keen interest that neighbours and friends had in the young men that departed our shores for Europe and would arrange with the families permission to publish the letters that they were receiving in the newspaper.

On August 10, 1915 Walter and Mary Crosbie of Bay Robert’s were pleased to find that the Evening Telegram had published a letter that they had received from their son, George (Graham) Crosbie, Regimental Number 1447.  She wanted everyone to know that her boy had signed up for the war effort and that he was at Stob’s Camp in Scotland where he was training to be a soldier.

He wrote to his mother:

Stobb’s Camp

July 11, 1915

Dear Mother:

Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and in good health. I had a lovely time across, I was not a bit sea sick. I had a grand time in Gibraltar. I was talking to Peter Mansfield he told me to remember him to you.

I was talking to all the boys belonging home we landed at Liverpool the boys are as fat as bears, you would not know any of them now.

I think this is all I have to say now as we are not allowed to give any particulars.

You can send me some cigarettes and tobacco as the cigarettes and tobacco is hardly fit to smoke her. Give my love to all the friends especially Aunt Judy tell her I wish I could get some of her beer now.

I think this is all now, you must excuse this letter for I am writing it on the grass.

From your loving son,

Graham

Young Graham was so determined to sign up that he convinced recruiters that he was old enough. They wrote on his attestation papers or official record “his apparent age is 19.” The reality was that he was only 16 years old. He departed St. John’s, Newfoundland on the troopship the Calgarian, June 15, 1915.

One year after he wrote this letter George Graham Crosbie, age 17; died from wounds that he sustained at Beaumont Hamel, France on July 1, 1916.

His friend Peter Francis Mansfield, Regimental Number 37 from Jersey Side – Placentia survived the war.

George Graham Crosbie is buried in St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen; Seine-Maritime, France. His grieving parents established a gravesite at the Anglican cemetery in Coley’s Point where he could be remembered at home.

Recommended Exhibit at The Rooms:  Beaumont – Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou. Level 2:   The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories. – See more at: https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/always/beaumont-hamel-and-the-trail-of-the-caribou#sthash.MOcZ7rZp.dpuf

Recommended Archival Collection:   At the Rooms Provincial Archives there is available 6683 individual service files, many have been digitized and are available at:  https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/in-depth/military-service-files/database This searchable database for military service records includes the attestation papers: name, service number, community and district of origin, next of kin and relationship, religion, occupation, year of enlistment, fatality, and POW status (if applicable). Take some time to read the stories of these young men.

Recommended Reading: Browne, Gary. Forget-Me-Not: Fallen Boy Soldiers, St. John’s: DRC Publishing, 2011. 145p.

 

“The poor man’s holiday.” The Regatta.

Archival Moment

 

Photo Credit: Early illustration of Regatta from Canadian Illustrated News, 1875. Regatta Museum.

Photo Credit: Early illustration of Regatta from Canadian Illustrated News, 1875. Regatta Museum.

The St. John’s Regatta, has since 1818 been an important date on the holiday calendar in Newfoundland. In the 1880’s the “the day of the Races” was considered by many our “National Holiday.”

An editorial in the St. John’s newspaper, the Evening Telegram in July 1881 stated:

“ … we have come to regard “the day of the Races” as our National Holiday, and it is highly expedient, in the general interest that, in fixing on a particular day for these annual aquatic “sports and pastimes, …”

The editorialist wrote that “Regatta Day” should be a holiday for the laboring people:

“… because the Regatta is above all, “the poor man’s holiday.”  When “the people” go out to take their pleasure in the green fields and by the grassy lake of Quidi Vidi, it is expedient that all “the people” should be able to be there.”

The plea to have the Regatta as a National Holiday of the colony of Newfoundland never became a reality but in the hearts and minds of the residents of St. John’s it is the most significant holiday.

There is little doubt that the Regatta was “the poor man’s holiday” all of the crews were made up of the men from the working classes, the vast majority fishermen. At lakeside special ‘aquatic tents’ were reserved for the merchant classes, where they retired for refreshments.

In 1897, Sir Herbert Harley Murray, the Colonial Governor of Newfoundland refused to attend the Regatta stating that the “best” people were not patronizing the event. The son of an Anglican bishop it is likely that Murray was not happy with the boozing by the “operative and laboring classes ….taking their pleasure in the green fields and by the grassy lake of Quidi Vidi.”   He was also not amused that during the Regatta the previous  year no one stepped forward to hold an umbrella for his daughter during a rain shower. Not even the gentlemen of the town lived up to his standard of the “best” people.

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 Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Exhibit: Up The Pond: The Royal St. John’s Regatta  – The Regatta is a two-century old St. John’s rowing event and gigantic garden party held the first Wednesday of every August at Quidi Vidi Lake, weather depending. This year The Rooms commemorates this longstanding day of racing and fun “up the pond.”  Explore Regatta stories, legendary crews and lakeside traditions through artifacts, historic imagery and memorabilia.  Share your Regatta memories and traditions with us!  You can also try your hand at some fun and games in our special Regatta games area, also in the atrium on Level 3.

Recommended Web Site: The Royal St. John’s Regatta:  http://regatta.nlpl.ca/php/home.php

Recommended tune (Listen): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNVQdwzMKpA

UP THE POND: THE ROYAL ST. JOHN’S REGATTA

UP THE POND: THE ROYAL ST. JOHN’S REGATTA

Photo Credit: Quidi Vidi, sketch by William Grey, Sketches of Newfoundland, 1858

Using archival documents in public programming is always  the goal of archivists in this country and one of the best examples of this marriage is the new CBC Newfoundland and Labrador series  “Down at the Lake” a series of four short documentaries on the history of the development of Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s.

Quidi Vidi Lake is home to the Royal St. John’s Regatta, a two-century old  race and probably one of the most celebrated annual sporting events in North America. The first recorded documentation of an organized event taking place is in 1818, but historians believe that rowing matches were taking place among ship’s crews in St. John’s Harbour since at least the 1700’s. But much more happens on the shores of that historic Pond!! Using archival material and local historical enthusiasts CBC Newfoundland and Labrador tells some great stories.

 The first episode delves into the stories of Quidi Vidi Village: how the area got its name, a church that’s now a home, and development plans around the lake. The second part of the series explores stone structures on the south shore of lake (that are still in use today), and tales of some jail breaks.

The third part of looks at some unusual sports and two graves that predate the cemetery they’re in.  The fourth and final installment of the CBC NL series about Quidi Vidi delves into the music, wild parties and a hotel that was owned by an eccentric entrepreneur on the north side of the lake.

You can watch all 4 parts here:
bit.ly/2v3fLfX pic.twitter.com/p2PibgGvk3

If  this production is not enough come over to The Rooms  for the exhibit: UP THE POND: THE ROYAL ST. JOHN’S REGATTA

The Regatta is a two-century old St. John’s rowing event and gigantic garden party held the first Wednesday of every August at Quidi Vidi Lake, weather depending. This year The Rooms commemorates this longstanding day of racing and fun “up the pond.”

Come to the Rooms and explore Regatta stories, legendary crews and lakeside traditions through artifacts, historic imagery and memorabilia.

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 1, 2018

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 on 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 Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Exhibit: Up The Pond: The Royal St. John’s Regatta  – The Regatta is a two-century old St. John’s rowing event and gigantic garden party held the first Wednesday of every August at Quidi Vidi Lake, weather depending. This year The Rooms commemorates this longstanding day of racing and fun “up the pond.”  Explore Regatta stories, legendary crews and lakeside traditions through artifacts, historic imagery and memorabilia.  Share your Regatta memories and traditions with us!  You can also try your hand at some fun and games in our special Regatta games area, also in the atrium on Level 3.

 

Bishop not happy with Confederation

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

 

How did Newfoundland vote?

How did Newfoundland vote?

It was no secret that Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche, the leader of the Catholic Church in St. John’s during the referendum debates in Newfoundland in 1948 was strongly opposed to Newfoundland joining Confederation.  He took every opportunity that he could to encourage “his people” to vote for Responsible Government.

The anti-confederate forces were divided between the Responsible Government League [RGL] and the Economic Union Party [EUP]. The RGL advocated a simple return to the status Newfoundland had held in 1933.  A group of younger anti-confederates formed the EUP, led by Chesley Crosbie, which promoted the idea of a special economic relationship with the United States.

In contrast, the Confederate Association under Joey Smallwood and Gordon Bradley was better funded, better organized, and had an effective island-wide network. They campaigned hard and with considerable skill and confidence.

On June 3, 1948 the results of the first referendum were released. Confederation received 64,066 votes, 41.1 percent of the total, Responsible government with 69,400 votes (44.6 percent) and Commission government was last, with 22,311 votes (14.3 percent).

A second referendum was set for 22 July 1948, with Commission dropped from the ballot.

Archbishop Roche was not a happy man.  He looked at the results of the first referendum only to find that areas of the province that had a significant Catholic population had voted for Confederation.  He was especially displeased with the people of  Marystown on the Burin peninsula who had voted for Confederation with Canada.  He laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the parish priest Reverend John Fleming.

On June 26, 1948 he wrote to the Reverend Fleming:

“Words are cheap; actions speak. In the recent referendum your people of Marystown – a majority of them – aligned themselves against the rest of the Diocese.  This was due largely either to your misguided leadership or to your masterly inactivity.”  200/F/2/1

Following  the 22 July 1948  the Confederation option won a small majority over the Responsible Government choice, Confederation winning by 78,323 votes or 52.34 per cent over 71,344 or 47.66 per cent over the latter. Voter turnout was 84.89 per cent of the registered electors.

The Responsible Government option carried in seven districts, all on the Avalon Peninsula, and the Confederate vote carried in the remaining districts.  The Confederates successfully picked up the vote previously given in the first referendum to the Commission of Government option. The same regional voting pattern evident in the first referendum was also present in the second referendum, with the Roman Catholic vote off the Avalon Peninsula having played a significant role in the Confederate vote.

Reverend John Fleming was not the only Catholic priest to advocate for Confederation. It is said that Joey Smallwood in 1964 on the death of  the Reverend William Collins who had served in many parishes in Placentia Bay attended the wake service of Reverend Collins. At the service it is alleged that Smallwood said:

“When I die and go to the pearly gates, I will greet St. Peter and I will ask if Father Collins is sitting on the heavenly throne ,  if this good Confederation supporter,  this priest has not been welcomed into the heavens, I too will refuse to enter.”

On March 31, 1949, Archbishop Roche would not have  been in  the mood to celebrate.   The act creating the new Canadian province of Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador) came into force just before midnight on March 31, 1949; ceremonies marking the occasion did not take place until April 1.

The British Parliament passed the necessary legislation on 23 March, and the Terms of Union came into effect “immediately before the expiration of the thirty-first day of March 1949” (Term 50).

With the death of Joey Smallwood in 1991 the Government of Newfoundland asked the Roman Catholic Basilica parish, where Archbishop Roche is buried in the crypt, if they would host the funeral for the former premier.  The Basilica parish agreed.  It was the first time that the two were in the same building.  The choir director (Sister Kathrine Bellamy, RSM ) said  to one of the choir members,  “Would you go down into the crypt and sit on Archbishop Roche’s coffin, for surely he is spinning in his grave that they have allowed Joey in his church.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives Division  explore  GN 154  a collection that  consists of minutes of the delegations 41 meetings in St. John’s; letters to the Chairman and the Secretary of the Newfoundland Delegation to Ottawa from societies, business firms, Labour unions, etc. regarding the effect of Confederation on various organizations.

Recommended Exhibit:  Here, We Made a Home. The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4. The Rooms.   Come over to the Rooms and find Joey Smallwood’s glasses and bowtie.

Recommended Reading: “Newfoundland at the Crossroads” by Dr. John FitzGerald.  A guide through original documents to key issues in Newfoundland’s 20th-century constitutional history. This book reveals the desires of Britain and Canada to bring about Newfoundland’s union with Canada, and shows their close co-operation and the fascinating inner political workings of the confederation campaigns.

Recommended Website:  The 1948 Referendums:  http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/referendums.html

 

“Emily, you have not been forgotten …”

ARCHIVAL MOMENTS

“EMILY, YOU HAVE NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN …

July 18, 1912

Emily Day headstone, Forest Road Anglican Cemetery, St. John’s

Little is known about Emily Day other than she was a domestic servant working in the community of Tilt Cove on the Baie Verte peninsula for the William Cunningham Family.  William held a number of positions in the community including serving as Justice of the Peace, the telegrapher and customs officer.

On March 11, 1912 an avalanche struck two houses in Tilt Cove built at the head of the cove at the foot of a steep slope, one belonging to Mr. Francis Williams, manager of the Cape Copper Company, and the other belonging to a Mr. William Cunningham.

The Cunningham house was swept off its foundation and Emily Day the family servant was thrown across the kitchen. She had three year-old Edward Cunningham in her arms, protecting him against the weight of the snow. Unfortunately she was buried, jammed against the hot kitchen stove, by the time she was dug out, two hours later, she was very severely burnt. Edward was only slightly injured with minor burns.  Her loving embrace had saved his life.

Emily was sent to the St. John’s General Hospital  under the care of Dr. Knight where she succumbed to her injuries and died on July 18.  Her act of heroism to save the child garnered her some public attention in the last few months of her life.  The Girl’s Friendly Society (GFS)  an organization of domestic servants in the city were so impressed that upon her death they commissioned the erection of a  headstone  on her grave in the Anglican Cemetery on Forest Road, St. John’s. It headstone reads:

Erected by the Girl’s Friendly Society and others  to the memory of Emily Day, aged 29 years who died July 18, 1912 from injuries received  while saving the life of a child in the Tilt Cove Avalanche.  Greater Love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”

On the 100th Anniversary of her death Judy Powell of Calgary  (her  maternal grandfather,  Cecil Cunningham was 15 at the time of the avalanche, it was his younger brother Edward who was saved)  arranged for a wreath to be placed at the grave to remember, the woman who gave up her life to embrace the life of a child.

 “I just wanted to make a gesture on behalf of our families to show that she is not forgotten, I’ve just never been able to get her out of my mind. This is a small gesture of remembrance from our families. ” Powell said.

Powell never knew her great-uncle, but has an idea how her grandfather would view the wreath-laying.

A card on the wreath laid one hundred years to the day of Emily’s death read:

 “Emily you have not been forgotten by the family whose child you saved  – Edward Cunningham. Ever remembered by the Cunningham’s, Powell’s, and Goodman’s.

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms is home  to a number of photographs detailing life in the mining community of  Tilt Cove and images of the avalanche.

Recommended Reading:  Killer Snow, Avalanches in Newfoundland by David Liverman., Flanker Press,St. John’s, 2007.