Author Archives: Larry Dohey

The first time that the “Ode to Newfoundland” was sung


January 21, 1902

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives MG 596 -110 sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives MG 596 -110 sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

On January 22, 1902, the local St. John’s newspaper, The Daily News, reported that on the previous evening at the Casino Theatre in St. John’s  that the      “Newfoundland “ now known as ‘The Ode To Newfoundland’ was sung for the very first time.  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 music for the Governor’s poem was arranged by Professor E.R. Krippner.

The Daily News reporter knew that he had heard something very special, he observed “he has given us a poem which may be chosen as the Colony’s own anthem.”

The words have since become etched in Newfoundlanders’ collective memory.

When Sunrays crown thy pine clad hills,

And Summer spreads her hand,

When silvern voices tune thy rills,

We love thee smiling land,

We love thee, we love thee

We love thee, smiling land.

When spreads thy cloak of shimm’ring white,

At Winter’s stern command,

Thro’ shortened day and starlit night,

We love thee, frozen land,

We love thee, we love thee,

We love thee, frozen land.

When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,

And wild waves lash thy strand,

thro’ sprindrift swirl and tempest roar,

we love thee, wind-swept land,

We love thee, we love thee,

We love thee, wind-swept land.

As loved our fathers, so we love,

Where once they stood we stand,

Their payer we raise to heav’n above,

God guard thee, Newfoundland,

God guard thee, God guard thee,

God guard thee, Newfoundland.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division take some time to look at  MG 956.110  this item consists of sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

Recommended (Academic) Reading: The Newfoundland Journal:  Volume 22, Number 1 (2007) Imagining Nation: Music and Identity in Pre-Confederation Newfoundland: Glenn Colton: Lakehead University.

Recommended (Children) Reading:  Ode to Newfoundland – Geoff Butler an illustrated book celebrating the land, seascapes, people, and traditions of Newfoundland.

Recommended Activity: Sing your heart out – sing along.

“Fish and Brewis is the dish that Newfoundlanders yearn …”

January 18, 1917

Archival Moment

Fish and Brewis served to the Newfoundland Regiment in the trenches of France.

Fish and Brewis served to the Newfoundland Regiment in the trenches of France.

“Fish and Brewis” has long been one of the most common meals served in Newfoundland and Labrador and during the First World War (1914 -1918) Newfoundlanders were determined to see the meal served to the ‘boys’ of the Newfoundland Regiment. The people of the Dominion of Newfoundland were so resolute that this Newfoundland delicacy be available to their ‘soldiers boys’ in the trenches of France that a “Fish and Brewis” Fund was established to purchase and send overseas the two main ingredients, dried cod fish and ship’s biscuits.

Like most people in a foreign land, the men of the Newfoundland Regiment missed the comfort foods of home. One historian reported, Fish and Brewis is the dish that all Newfoundlanders yearn when away from home.”

Fish and Brewis (pronounced “brews”) is a combination of salt cod and hard bread, which is a small, compact cake, made with flour and water and sometimes called “hard tack.” The dish is frequently sprinkled with “scruncheons,” which are crisp fried bits of salt fat-back pork, and the scruncheons are sometimes fried with onions.

In a letter dated January 18, 1917, Charles P. Ayre, the Honorable Secretary, of the Fish an Brewis Committee, in St. John’s received a note from Captain (Rev.) Thomas Nangle expressing the thanks of the Ist Battalion, Newfoundland Regiment in France for the feed of the “Fish and Brewis.” He wrote:

“it would be hard to find in the whole British Army a more contented unit than the boys from “Newfoundland” on that Sunday morning we had Fish and Brewis for breakfast. The men enjoyed the meal to such an extent that even in the line … arrangements for them to have this ration once a week while it lasts.”

Nangle gave much of the credit for the meal to the Newfoundland cooks who cooked the “home produce” the dried fish and hard tack. He wrote:

“That it was cooked properly let it suffice to say that our cooks are Newfoundland cooks, know their business, and did it properly.”

The military historian Gerald W.L. Nicholson author of The Fighting Newfoundlander noted that there was one ingredient was missing. He wrote:

“The shipment did not include fat pork, which when fried into ‘schruncheons” added the crowning touch to the fish and brewis. The battalion’s cooks substituted with bacon, and produced a treat which evoked from every true Newfoundlander expressions of deepest satisfaction…. “

The Newfoundlanders were all very contented with their breakfast but an Essex Officer, not familiar with the delicacy was heard to say “What the hell is that?”

A young soldier of the Newfoundland Regiment writing to his mother on January 25, 1917 wrote:

“ I have been informed that the good people in dear old St John’s have gotten up what they called a “Fish and Brewis Committee”to gather funds to buy some bread and fish to send to “Our|boys to make a treat of Fish and Brewis for them. I am sure they will enjoy and appreciate it because the fish you sent me in one of the parcels was simply grand. I cannot find words to describe to you how delighted I was to get it.”

Recommended Exhibit: 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:

Recommended Cook Book: Edward A. Jones spent decades sampling and lovingly collecting salt cod recipes from around the world. The result is Salt Cod Cuisine: The International Table, 2013 a remarkable collection of 250 step-by-step salt cod recipes that celebrates salt cod and its place in world history and culture.

Luckless compounder of “sugar and spice…”

Archival Moment

January 18, 1886

Chef-Drinking-Wine-Bottle-HolderCooks have a reputation of being temperamental, they have been known to burst into fits of rage and walk out of the kitchen. Such, was the temperament of Henry Laneman, one of the pastry cooks at the Atlantic Hotel in St. John’s.

The Atlantic Hotel, located at 102 Water Street was the most prestigious hotel in the city at the time. It was opened in 1875 by J.W. Foran.

There was the practice in the larger kitchens of St. John’s in the 1880’s that allowed for “hotel cooks to be given a liberal allowance of pale brandy” it was “one of the perquisites of hotel cooks.”

In January 1886, Henry Laneman was angry, on this occasion the pastry cook got a sufficiency of liquor to make him saucy enough to ask for “more.” He felt that his employer John Foran, the proprietor of the Atlantic Hotel had “stinted” the supply of pale brandy, he was so angry that  he assaulted the proprietor of that establishment.

The police were quickly on the scene and marched Mr. Laneman, described in the local newspapers as “the luckless compounder of sugar and spice and all that’s nice,” off to prison.

Mr. Foran did not press the charge of assault  but because of the police interference  the case went before the courts, Judge Daniel Prowse looked down compassionately at the prisoner.

The local St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram reported:

“Judge Prowse was inwardly imagining, no doubt, what the pastry cooks feelings would have been on suddenly finding himself transferred from a luxurious discussion of “soups, roasts and ragouts”  (at the restaurant hotel) to the stern realities of “hard tack and cold water”. (of the prison)

Judge Prowse decided that, in view of the pangs already suffered by the pastry cook, imprisonment would not be the proper course to serve, but he “insisted that the cook pay a fine of three dollars to appease the angry wraith of justice.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to read GN 1/16 this collection includes Daily Programs, Government House Dinners, seating, plans, menus etc. 1913-1922. Take a look at how the upper crust of St. John’s lived and dined.

Recommended Exhibit: Truth or Myth: Feast and Famine:  Truth or Myth? draws on the permanent collection to explore the changing relationship between cultural identity and food in Newfoundland and Labrador, as portrayed by artists such as Grant Boland, Ross Flowers, Jamie Lewis, Mary Pratt, and Helen Parsons Shepherd.  See more at:

“Genealogy, sex, …. and the place of archives.“

Archival Moment

January 16, 1888

newfoundland-bookIt has long been recognized that people are passionate about their family and their family origins, in fact genealogy is considered one of the most popular hobbies in the world.

Genealogy is the second most popular hobby in the U.S. after gardening, according to ABC News, and the second most visited category of websites, after pornography. It’s a billion-dollar industry that has spawned profitable websites, television shows, scores of books and — with the advent of over-the-counter genetictest kits — a cottage industry in DNA ancestry testing.

There was a time in Newfoundland when genealogists were frustrated; there were no official institutions in place to help them to build a family tree. One of the first residents of the colony (now province) to recognize this reality was James Murray a St. John’s, Water Street merchant.  In January 1888 Murray wrote to the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram:

“I cannot but express my regret; even at this late day, no effective steps have yet been taken in this colony by which genealogical records may be kept in a public, official and systematic way. As we may fairly assume that the colony has now a definite future before it, I think that no further time should be lost in supplying this lack of vital statistics, the last, but not least, distinguishing mark of civilization.”

Another decade was to pass before the recommendations of Murray were to be heeded. Civil registration started in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1891. Beginning at that time, all clergy were required to register with the government, all baptisms, marriages and burials conducted within their jurisdiction. Prior to 1891, no such central registry existed, so the only records of baptism, marriage or burial were the ones held by the churches.

It was not until 1956 that a grant from the Carnegie Foundation of New York allowed a group of academics at Memorial University of Newfoundland to begin to collect organize and describe various collections of historic government records which included marriage, birth and death registers.

In 1959 the Provincial Government of Newfoundland  passed the Historic Objects, Sites and Records Act which established the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL). At that point the records were transferred to PANL located in the Colonial Building on Military Road.

In 2005 the Provincial Archives Division was established in The Rooms.

It was ironic that Murray who was so passionate about keeping records in a “public, official and systematic way’ in the Great Fire of 1892, which razed much of St. John’s, lost all that was dear to him.  While the Murray premises were spared, the records (that he held so dear) were destroyed when the safe in which they were stored was opened too quickly after the conflagration.

Recommended Archives: Contact the Rooms Provincial Archives at (709) 757-8088  or

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives:

Recommended Reading:  Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland E.R. Seary (Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1976). Corrected edition by William J. Kirwin. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998

The fear of Friday 13th – this is Friday, January 13th

Do you fear Friday 13th?

Was Judas number 13?

Triskaidekaphobia (also being referred to as 13-digit phobia) is the irrational fear of the number 13.

Some attribute it to the Bible, where the Last Supper was attended by 13 people, and some speculated that the 13th person at the table was Judas, who later betrayed Jesus.

Another belief is that the phobia of number 13 is caused by it being an irrational number and 12 being the number of perfection. Numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus.

Triskaidekaphobia can be seen even in how societies are built. More than 80 percent of high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.

How do you pronounce the word? TRIS-kə-DEK-ə-FOH-bee

Say TRIS-kə-DEK-ə-FOH-bee -ah. three times very loudly as you approach friends or groups of people and they will  (usually) step aside making a clear safe path for you to walk – most will leave you alone to work in your very safe environment.

Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve Loss Remembered

Archival Moment

January 13, 1915

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. A 11-165; Departure of the Newfoundland Detachment to the Great War (Naval Reservists embarking for England, 1914.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. A 11-165; Departure of the Newfoundland Detachment to the Great War (Naval Reservists embarking for England, 1914.

Most people associate the memorial at Beaumont Hamel, France with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment but the memorial also pays tribute to the men of Newfoundland and Labrador who served with the Royal Navy.

The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial pays tribute to all those Newfoundlanders who served in the First World War and specifically commemorates those who have no known graves. Emblazed on a bronze table at Beaumont Hamel are the names of 24 seamen of the Newfoundland Division of the Royal Naval Reserve. These men died on 13 January 1915 in the sinking of the HMS Viknor.

The HMS Viknor was built in 1888 as the Atrato for the Royal Mail Steam Co. Ltd. The S/S Atrato was a beautifully designed passenger ship, more resembling a luxury yacht than a liner. She was used in the service between England and the West Indies and could carry up to 280 passengers. Bought by Viking Cruising Co. Ltd. in 1912, she was renamed Viking.

At the beginning of WWI, she was requisitioned by the Admiralty, equipped with armament and renamed HMS Viknor. She was mainly used as a cruising patrol ship.

On 13th January 1915, while on patrol, she sank in heavy weather without any distress call. It was assumed that she was sunk by a mine, belonging to a minefield laid by the Germans. Not a single soul of the 295 crew was saved. Many of the bodies were washed ashore days after the sinking.

Among the crew were 25 Newfoundlanders. 24 bodies were never found. The body of Seaman John Bowen Mercer, Age 21 ((1034X) Son of Thomas George Mercer and Elizabeth Mercer, of Bay Roberts washed ashore and is buried in the Colonsay Military Cemetery. Colonsay is an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 39 - 4. Naval Reservists

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 39 – 4. Naval Reservists

The 24 men of the Newfoundland Division of the Royal Naval Reserve lost in HMS Viknor are recorded at Beaumont Hamel.

1220X Seaman Enos Barnes.Age 33. Son of Matthew and Elizabeth Barnes; husband of Jessie Barnes, of Port Union.

1219X Seaman Albert Brace. Age 20. Son of Richard and Mary Brace, of Chance Cove, Trinity Bay.

1147X Seaman George Coates, age 29. Son of Philip and Emma Coates, of Fogo.

702X Seaman Gilbert Dyke, Age 23. Son of John Martin Dyke and Louisa Dyke, of Salvage Bay.

411X Seaman James Greening, Age 28. Son of Joseph and Jane Greening, of Summerville, Bonavista Bay.

2180X Seaman Thomas Jackson, Age 21. Son of Mrs. Alice Jackson, of Brigus, Port de Grave.

1218X Seaman Levi Jerrett; Age 23. Son of William and Mary Jerrett, of 90, Boyd’s Lane, St. John’s.

874X Seaman Albert Kelly, Son of 24 John and Emmeline Kelly, Cupids, Conception Bay.

1213X Seaman Phillip Lewis, Age 20. Son of Frederick Lewis  and Melina Reynolds of Caplin Cove, Bay de Verde.

1224X Seaman Alexander Martin, Age 23. Son of Rebecca Martin, of Battery Rd., St. John’s.

1209X Seaman Frederick Morgan. Age 19. Son of Joseph Morgan, of Seal Cove, Conception Bay.

1190X Seaman William George Morgan, Age 17. Son of George Henry and Sarah Morgan, of Blow-me-down, Port de Grave.

932X John Parsons, Age 23. Son of John and Mary A. Parsons, of Shearstown.

901X Seaman Harry W Peach, Age 25. Son of William Henry and Elizabeth Peach; husband of Elsie May Brinson (formerly Peach), of Arnold’s Cove, Placentia Bay.

706X Seaman Charles Ralph, Age 24. Son of Stephen and Leah Ralph, of Flat Island, Bonavista Bay.

1122X Seaman Charles Rowe, Age 21. Son of John and Ann Rowe, of Trinity.

1222X Seaman William St. Croix, Age 22. Son of Joseph and Esther St. Croix of Trepassey.

1227X Seaman Edward Smart, Age 19. Son of Samuel and Fanny Smart, of Saunder’s Cove, Alexander Bay.

862X Seaman Eli Sparkes, 24. Son of Isaac and Mary J. Sparkes, Shearstown.

1259X Seaman George Stringer, Age 21. Son of William T. and Mary Ann Stringer, of Little Heart’s Ease, Random South.

1214X Seaman Douglas Walsh, Age 20. Son of Mrs. Mary Ann Hutchings, of Cow Head, St. Barbe.

2179X Seaman Albert J Warren, Age 22. Son of Eli and Mary A. Warren, of Glovertown, Alexander Bay.

611X Seaman George Youden, Age 25. Son of Henry and Jessie Youden, of Bull Cove.

670X Seaman Thomas Youden, Age 26. Son of Henry and Jessie Youden, of Bull Cove. Husband of Alice Youden

During World War I approximately 2000 Newfoundland reservists served in the war effort; 180 men were killed in action. The reservists were not maintained as a unit but dispersed among the British Navy. The reservists also guarded the wireless station near Mount Pearl and manned the defence battery at Fort Waldegrave (reactivated summer 1916). In 1921 demobilization of the reservists was completed and the Royal Naval Reserve was disbanded.

In Bowring Park, St. John’s the caribou memorial has replica plaques of the memorial plaques at Beaumont Hamel, they list 820 names of Newfoundland soldiers, seamen and sailors who died in WW1 and have no known graves. Before this replica was erected families and friends had to travel to Europe to pay tribute to their sacrifice. Remember the men of the HMS Viknor by visiting Bowring Park.

The Newfoundland Naval Reserve is also represented by a sailor holding a spyglass on the west wing of the Newfoundland National War Memorial on Water Street, St. John’s. Give him a second look as you walk past and remember all of the young men of the HMS Viknor.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives research the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve fonds . GB 1/3. This collection consists of 17 volumes of personnel records for the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve (1900-1919). Records include applications for enrolment, naval service ledgers and registers of payment and retainers. Includes an alphabetical listing of reservists. Microfilm reproductions are available for research. Reel content is provided with item level descriptions.



“Open air skating” in Bannerman Park

Archival Moment

January 5, 1885

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: 1.27.015; Racing on Quidi Vidi Lake

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: 1.27.015; Racing on Quidi Vidi Lake

There has since the official opening of  “The Loop” in Bannerman Park on  December 24 , 2013 been much excitement about  “open air skating” in the city.  It is the talk of the town, there has in fact not been so much enthusiasm about ‘open air skating” since January 1885.

In January 1885 “three enterprising young men” recognized that “open air skating” might be an attractive proposition to offer to the citizens of St. John’s. They suggested that the good citizens of St. John’s would much prefer “open air skating to the tame monotonous round of Rink skating.”

The three men arranged to have “a wide avenue down and across Quidi Vidi Lake kept clear” that would be reserved for their skaters.  They also proposed erecting “a shed containing a stove” near the skating surface “where warm tea and coffee will be served.”

On January 5, 1885 the St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram reported:

“We note that three enterprising young men are making arrangements to enclose with boughs and to keep swept clean during the winter a suitably spacious area of Ice in Quidi Vidi Lake, for skating purposes. Undoubtedly, this idea fills a universally felt want. Those who prefer open air skating to the tame monotonous round of Rink skating  are reckoned by the hundreds, and as a wide avenue down  and across the lake will be kept clear, we fully believe that the enterprise will receive large public patronage. A shed containing a stove will be erected near where warm tea and coffee will be served.”

One hundred and thirty two years later (132) in St. John’s  skaters have once again forsaken “the tame monotonous round of Rink skating”   and are now heading to Bannerman Park.

The new ice trail, loops through the centre of Bannerman Park and offers a unique skating experience in the heart of the city. It is designed for leisurely skating and is family friendly. Lighting also allows it to be used in the evenings.

Recommended Archival Collection: the search bar type Bannerman Park

Recommended Site: Loop Schedule: