August 22, 1898
You would think if you listened to the critics of the late night hours on George Street, St. John’s, that it was today’s youth who invented the concept of partying throughout the night. Partying from dusk to dawn is nothing new to the city.
In August 1898, residents of the town found every excuse to have a party, including bringing friends and colleagues together for a ‘raspberry treat.’
On Saturday, August 20, 1898 friends gathered for a ‘raspberry treat’ at Dillon’s Cottage, Freshwater. The concept of a ‘raspberry treat’ was quite simple. The local St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram reported:
“Various games were enjoyed until 10.00 o’clock when all sat down and did justice to the raspberries and cream and other delicacies so plentifully provided. Songs were then given by a number of ladies and gentlemen of the company.”
There was a tradition in Newfoundland that the first raspberries were never picked before August 15 also known as Lady Day in Newfoundland.
The report in the local paper went on to say:
“Dancing formed the next part of the programme, and was kept up till daylight, when a vote of thanks was tendered to Mrs. Miller and the ladies. Before leaving for town, (St. John’s) refreshments were served, and after singing “Auld Lang Syne” the party dispersed.”
In 1898, Dillon’s Cottage, Freshwater would have been one of approximately 20 homes that were once common in the Freshwater Valley area, the area that we now know best as Mount Scio and Oxen Pond. Freshwater would be the area that is now the home of the Botanical Garden and Timble Cottage on Nagle’ Hill.
Freshwater Valley was settled primarily by Irish immigrant farmers who produced food for local consumption, particularly for St. John’s and the surrounding area. The Irish pioneers developed a farming way of life that proved prosperous from the late 1700s into the twentieth century.
Newfoundland is perfect for growing raspberries, which prefer a cooler environment. Raspberries are said to be loaded with antioxidants that help fight symptoms of aging in the body. Mi’kmaq tradition suggests raspberries help treat diarrhea and boiling the berries and leaves produce a stimulant that helps cure mouth sores.
Why not plan an all-night ‘raspberry treat’. Invite me along!!
Recommended Archival Collection: Search the online database for descriptions of archival records at the Rooms and view thousands of digital photographs. Click the image to begin your search. https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections
Recommended Reading: Farming the Rock: The Evolution of Commercial
Agriculture around St. John’s, Newfoundland, to 1945. by Robert MacKinnon. Acadiensis, Vol. XX, No. 2 Spring, 1991.