ARCHIVAL MOMENT : CHRISTMAS TRADITION
One of the enduring symbols of Christmas is the Salvation Army kettle. Salvationists and friends stand at strategic shopping locations inviting the public to drop a few coins in their “kettles” with the monies realized going to the poor.
The kettle first appeared on the streets of San Francisco, California, USA in 1891 brainchild of Captain Joseph McFee, the kettles were used in a campaign to raise funds for a shelter in the waterfront district.
He remembered, during his earlier days in Liverpool, England, seeing a large kettle where passengers of boats that docked nearby were able to toss coins to help the poor.
Captain McFee suspended a large cooking pot from a tripod and placed a sign above it that read: “Keep the pot boiling.” Shortly thereafter, Christmas kettles began appearing in communities across the United States and are now an indispensable part of the holiday season.
In Newfoundland the Salvation Army has been firmly established since the first meeting of the Army on September 3, 1885 at the Methodist Church in Portugal Cove.
In late January of 1886 a group of four female officers arrived in St. John’s, soon followed by a District Officer, Arthur Young. This initial group of Salvationists established the first corps in Newfoundland on Springdale Street in St. John’s. They held outdoor meetings at the Parade Ground, and marched with their followers through the streets making as much noise as possible. Within two months, the Salvation Army in St. John’s had 200 soldiers.
It was the Christmas of 1906 that the first kettle was introduced into Newfoundland. The kettle was suspended on a tripod in front of No. 1 Citadel on New Gower Street, St. John’s.
In Canada the Salvation Army collects approximately $15 -20 million in the nearly 2,000 kettles on street corners and at retail outlets. In Newfoundland the kettles raises approximately $200,000.
Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives there is a small collection of photographs documenting the presence of the army in Newfoundland and Labrador.