Author Archives: Larry Dohey

Tidal wave reached the Burin Peninsula

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

November 18, 1929

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A86-90; Eastern Cove Pond, Lord’s Cove. The Rennie home. Sarah Rennie and three of her children were found drowned in the kitchen. Survivor Maggie Rennie was found in her bed on the second floor

On November 18, 1929, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale out in the Atlantic Ocean on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland created a tidal wave ((tsunami).  When the ground shook at 5:02 p.m., some thought there had been an explosion in the mines or on a distant vessel. Yet nothing immediately followed the violent tremor so people resumed their previous activities.

Traveling at a speed of 140 kilometers per hour, the tidal wave reached the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland  at 7:00 p.m.

Detailed accounts of the devastation were made known on November 23 when a deputation from Burin consisting of Hon. G. A. Bartlett, Rev. Fr. James  Miller, and Capt. W.H. Hollett traveled to St. John’s to meet  with the Executive Government.

Father Miller (the Parish Priest of St. Patrick’s Parish, Burin from 1925 -1934) spoke to a reporter from the “Evening Telegram”  (the St. John’s daily newspaper) and told him of the distress and needs of the people in the stricken area.

Father Miller told the reporter that the fishermen were hit hardest, not by the loss of their own fishing gear, boats and stages, but by the fact that in many cases the whole community depended on one or two firms, now so badly shattered that it was impossible.

Several times during the conversation with The Telegram reporter Father Miller referred to heroic rescues by the local fishermen. In the darkness, with chaos everywhere, they calmly set about their work – climbed floating houses, searched amongst debris, and rescued the women and children.

“They (the fishermen) were most heroic, but they least suspect it” Father Miller told the Telegram.

This giant sea wave claimed a total of 28 lives – 27 drowned on the Burin peninsula and a young girl never recovered from her injuries and died in 1933. This represents Canada’s largest documented loss of life directly related to an earthquake.

At Port aux Bras a fisherman saw his home being swept away. He tried to save his wife and family but was blocked by another floating house. He was helpless as his imprisoned family whirled into darkness. His house was pulled out to sea faster than a boat could steam.

Mr. Ern Cheeseman of Port au Bras on the Burin peninsula in a letter to his brother Jack a few days after the tsunami wrote:

You could hear the poor humans who were caught, screaming, women and men praying out loud. Oh God, Jack, it was terrible Excuse this scribble but we are not over the shock yet. Every move one hears one jumps expecting the same to happen again.”

The Newfoundland government sent ships with doctors and supplies. Canada was the largest foreign donor donating $35,000 individual Newfoundlanders raised more than $200,000 to help their countrymen.

Apart from the Burin tsunami, two others have been reported, at Bonavista in 1755 as a result of the Lisbon earthquake, and St. Shott’s in June 1864. These caused damage, but no reported loss of life.

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to read MG 636: South Coast Disaster Relief Committee Report consists of a list of losses by settlement, reports, telegrams, correspondence, minutes of meetings; regarding the tidal wave and earthquake disaster on the Burin Peninsula, 1929. The collection also includes a report of the South Coast Disaster Committee, 1931.

Recommended Archival Collection: Search the Rooms  online database for descriptions of our archival records and view thousands of digital photographs. https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections  Take some time to look at the Tidal Wave photographs in the collection of the Rooms Provincial Archives.  A series consists of ten postcards documenting the damage to Burin area during a tidal wave (tsunami) along the South Coast of Newfoundland, Nov. 1929. The photographs were taken by Rev. James Anthony Miller, Roman Catholic priest, Burin. Miller’s film was developed by S.H. Parsons & Sons. The photographs were reproduced as postcards by Parsons. The photographs were also published in the New York Times (8 Dec. 1929).

Recommended Reading: Hanrahan, Maura. Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster.St. John’s: Flanker Press, 2004.

He asked the Queen to help him when he was 11

Donald Hawse  of St. Lawrence wrote Queen Elizabeth II when he was 11 years old. He wanted the Queen to know that his father was a First World War veteran but he had no records to prove this. He came to The Rooms sixty years after he wrote that letter. He was determined.

Take some time to watch this story:  (follows two short advertisements)  http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1093257283945

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 at The Rooms  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.

I will sing you home: Youtube video:  ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JeuCgA0rFIAn initiative of The Rooms in partnership with The Ennis Sisters, Shallaway Youth Choir and CBC.

The Rooms Will Be Closed On Saturday November 11 In Observance Of Remembrance Day.

 

Remembrance Day Weekend at the Rooms

VIMY FLIGHT PRESENTATION

A replica of a Nieuport 11 French single seater First World War fighter plane has landed at The Rooms. This plane was part of the “Birth of A Nation” tour, spanning the country from coast to coast, commemorating airplane heroes of the past 100 years.

This bi-plane was one of the aircraft that flew as part of a commemorative flight over the Vimy Memorial on the hundredth anniversary of the battle – April 9th, 2017. This aircraft also flew over Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park.

Join us as at The Rooms  as members of the team that flew the Nieuport 11 talk about their experience at Vimy and Beaumont Hamel and the place of flight in our First World War history.

 

Friday, Nov 10, 2017

1:00pm – 1:30 pm Vimy Flight Presentation

6:30pm – 7:00 pm Vimy Flight Presentation

Friday, Nov 10, 2017

2:30 – 3:30

The plane has landed in The Rooms

Vimy Flight: Premier public showing of the documentary  “Flight Path of Heroes”. 

Flight Path of Heroes: Connecting the Past and Present is the third in a trilogy of documentaries called A Nation Soars: Commemorating Canada’s Great War Flyers.

In this third instalment, narrator Dan Aykroyd tells the incredible story of a present day FWW squadron who travel to Vimy France, during the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, to perform a historic and patriotic flyby over the Vimy Memorial.

 

Friday, Nov 10, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

Songs of the Great War

Level 3 Atrium

Cost: $30.00 (note that this is a ticked event)

At home or at the front, music uplifted spirits, boosted morale, and became an overall important part of life during The Great War. Come join Bill Brennan with vocalists Shelley Neville and Peter Halley as they perform some of the most popular songs that were heard in music halls, pubs, tents, dug outs and trenches.

(Tickets are available on line www.therooms.ca )

 

The Rooms Will Be Closed On Saturday November 11 in observance of Remembrance Day.

 

Join us at The National War Memorial

At 10:55 a.m., His Honour (Honourable Frank F. Fagan and Her Honour Patricia Fagan) will attend the Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial where His Honour will lay the first wreath. Her Honour will lay a wreath on behalf of the Women’s Patriotic Association. Following the Service, His Honour will take the Salute in front of the Court House on Water Street. At the conclusion of the parade, Their Honours will host a Reception at Government House for invited guests.

At 2:30 p.m., Their Honours will attend the Annual Service of Remembrance at the Caribou Memorial Veterans Pavilion.

 

 

VIMY FLIGHT PRESENTATION

Landed at The Rooms

A replica of a Nieuport 11 French single seater First World War fighter plane has landed at The Rooms. This plane was part of the “Birth of A Nation” tour, spanning the country from coast to coast, commemorating airplane heroes of the past 100 years.

This bi-plane was one of the aircraft that flew as part of a commemorative flight over the Vimy Memorial on the hundredth anniversary of the battle – April 9th, 2017. This aircraft also flew over Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park.

Join us as at the Rooms as members of the team that flew the Nieuport 11 talk about their experience at Vimy and Beaumont Hamel and the place of flight in our First World War history.

 

Sunday November 12, 2017

1:00pm – 1:30 pm Vimy Flight Presentation

3:00pm – 3:30 pm Vimy Flight Presentation

 

 

 

 

Remember those who DIED IN SERVICE

Died In Service

The Memorial Plaque (Death Penney) was issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all Newfoundlanders and Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war.

The Memorial Plaque (Death Penney) was issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all Newfoundlanders and Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war.

The Rooms Provincial Archives is home to the database DIED IN SERVICE. 

Consisting of over 1,300 illustrated biographies of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who died in the First World War, information in the database was researched and compiled by researcher Alistair Rice who generously donated the database to The Rooms for public use via the Archives Division. Work to format the data and make it available online was completed by Rooms staff during the summer and fall of 2016.

To discover the stories of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, visit this link : https://www.therooms.ca/died-in-service-database

On November 11 – Remember those who DIED IN SERVICE

On Saturday, 11 November 2016 at 10:55 a.m., Their Honours  (Honourable Frank F. Fagan and Her Honour Patricia Fagan) will attend the Remembrance Day War Memorial Service at the National War Memorial, St. John’s  where His Honour will lay the first wreath. Her Honour will lay a wreath on behalf of the Women’s Patriotic Association. Following the Service, His Honour will take the Salute in front of the Court House on Water Street. At the conclusion of the parade, Their Honours will host a Reception at Government House for invited guests.

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 at The Rooms  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.

I will sing you home: Youtube video:  ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JeuCgA0rFIAn initiative of The Rooms in partnership with The Ennis Sisters, Shallaway Youth Choir and CBC.

The Rooms Will Be Closed On Saturday November 11 In Observance Of Remembrance Day.

Bonfire Night

ARCHIVAL MOMENT
November 5

Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated annually on November 5th. The origin of this celebration stems from events which took place in 1605, a conspiracy known as “The Gunpowder Plot,” intended to take place on November 5th (the day set for the opening of Parliament). The object of The Gunpowder Plot was to blow up English Parliament along with the ruling monarch, King James I. It was hoped that such a disaster would initiate a great uprising of English Catholics, who were distressed by the increased severity of penal laws against the practice of their religion.

The conspirators, who began plotting early in 1604, eventually expanded their members to a point where secrecy was impossible. While the plot itself was the work of a small number of men, it provoked hostility against all British Catholics and led to an increase in the harshness of laws against them. Even to this day, it is the law that no Roman Catholic may hold the office of monarch and the reigning king or queen remains Supreme Head of the Church of England.

It is believed that the very night the Gunpowder Plot was thwarted in 1605, bonfires were lit in London to celebrate its defeat of the Catholics. As early as 1607, there is a record of bonfire celebrations taking place in Bristol.

Newfoundland Bonfire Night

Traditionally in Newfoundland, November 5th was the big celebration for the Anglicans. The Catholics never took part. With the passage of time the tradition gradually became established in Catholic communities.

The newspapers of the day and oral interviews report that  They (Protestants) tried to make really big bonfires, sometimes with full blubber barrels, to rile the Roman Catholic’s.”

Barrels of any sort which were left unprotected on Bonfire Night were likely ‘bucked.”  There was also the tradition in some communities that a few tar barrels were put outside for the boys who’d be going around getting stuff for the bonfire.

Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night is a tradition that continues in many communities in the province.

Recommended Archival Collection: Search the online database at The Rooms for archival records and to view thousands of digital photographs. Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Archival Collections:  At Memorial University of Newfoundland: http://collections.mun.ca/cdm/search/collection/ich_social/searchterm/Bonfire%20Night!audio%252Fmp3/field/subcol!format/mode/all!all/conn/and!and/order/nosort/ad/asc

New Word: Blubber Barrel a large wooden container in which cod livers or fat of whales or other large marine animals are stored are stored or placed for the rendering of the oil. (Dictionary of Newfoundland English)

New Word: bucked: to collect or gather surreptitiously; stealing.
He bucked a barrel last night for the bonfire [on November 5thl. 1964 Evening Telegram 27 June, p. 10 (Dictionary of Newfoundland English)

Recommended Rhyme:
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

First World War fighter plane has landed at The Rooms

The plane has landed in The Rooms

A replica of a Nieuport 11, French single seater First World War fighter plane from 1917 has landed at The Rooms.  This plane was part of the “Birth of A Nation Tour” a tour spanning the country from coast to coast, engaging with communities to commemorate “airplane” heroes of the past 100 year. The Rooms is the last stop on this tour.

This bi-plane was one of the aircraft  that flew as part of a commemorative flight over the Vimy Memorial  on the hundredth anniversary of the battle – April 9th, 2017. This aircraft also flew over Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park.

During the First World  War (1914-1918)  Newfoundlanders were determined that  ‘Our Boys’  who had signed up to fight for King and Country would be equipped as well  as any other country in the world.  St. John’s newspaper headlines read “Give our Boys Aeroplanes”. The St. John’s newspaper the Daily Star read; “we have given ‘ Our Boys’  to the empire to do their bit. Let us equip them to do it as effectively as possible.”

In 1915 the Patriotic Association of Newfoundland led a fundraising effort to supply aircraft for the war effort. The collection drive turned its attention toward an “Airplane Fund” to purchase warplanes for the Imperial forces. By the late summer of 1915, the fund had raised $53,000. The government immediately purchased two Gnome-Vickers airplanes, at a cost of roughly $10,000 each. After some discussion, the Patriotic Association decided to buy another airplane. Donations continued to come in and by 1917, five planes had been purchased for the British air services.

Aviation historians have identified at least thirty three (33) NL flyers, with some aces, medal winners and some truly unique experiences.  Five of the more celebrated flyers were Ronald Ayre, Howard Vincent Reid, Roy S. Grandy, John M. Melee and Carl Frederick Falkenberg.

Howard Vincent Reid joined the Newfoundland Regiment at the outbreak of the war and was one of the First 500.  After arriving in Britain he transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service and became the first Newfoundland Pilot. It is likely that because Howard had joined the Naval Air Service that his father Sir William Reid purchased an aircraft  for the Overseas Club.

Ronald Ayre was studying in England when war broke out. He earned his pilot’s wings and flew in Europe. Awarded the Military Cross in 1917 (after two successful bombing missions), he gained promotion to Captain. After the war, he worked in the family business, Ayre & Sons.

Roy S. Grandy was born in Bay Largent, Fortune Bay, he enlisted  with the newfoundland Regiment in 1914 serving in the Gallipoli Campaign.  In 1916 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, his natural aptitude for flying eventually saw him being transferred to the School of Special Flying Gosport as a flying instructor.

John M. LeMee in 1915 left his job in the paper mill in Grand Falls and signed up with the Newfoundland Regiment.  He was one of the few survivors of Beaumont Hamel.  In December 1916 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. In April 1917 his plane crashed into the English Channel, he survived the crash and was awarded a testimonial from the Royal Humane Society for his bravery.

Carl Frederick Falkenberg DFC (2) was born in Botwood, Newfoundland.  In June 1917 he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, as a pilot and on February 28, 1918 joined Royal Air Force Squadron No. 84 in Flez France, flying SE5As at the start of the German spring offensive. On April 29, 1918 Falkenberg, shared, with another pilot, in the destruction of a German two-seater. Lieutenant Falkenberg was wounded a second time on May 10th 1918, when he crashed, but was soon back in combat. From May to August 1918, he served, as an instructor, in the original Canadian Air Force formed in England. On September 1st, 1918, he was awarded his first of two Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFCs).

His citation read in part as follows: “A bold and skillful airman who has destroyed four enemy machines and driven down four out of control.” By October 20, 1918 he had destroyed a total of 14 aircraft and one balloon and was awarded his second DFC.  After WW1, he became a salesman for North American Life Insurance. At the outbreak of WW2, Falkenberg joined the RCAF as an administration officer, serving as Commanding Officer of 4 Training Headquarters, Calgary and at No.2 Initial Training School, Regina Saskatchewan. He died in 1980.

Do you know the names of any First World War flyers?  Love to hear from you.

Landed at The Rooms

What is happening at The Rooms?

Friday November 10th

1 pm Vimy Flight (VF) Team presentations in theatre.

Included with the cost of admission.

2:30 pm: Documentary Launch “Flightpath of Heroes” at 2:30pm in the theatre.

Included with the cost of admission.

This documentary presents historical information about the Battle at Vimy Ridge and it covers the modern day Vimy Flight teams’ efforts to fly over the Vimy monument which happened this past spring. More information about the documentary can be found here: http://www.flight-path-of-heroes.ca/about.asp

3 pm Vimy Flight (VF) Team presentations in theatre.

Included with the cost of admission.

6:30pm Vimy Flight (VF) Team presentations in theatre.

Sunday November 12th

1 pm Vimy Flight (VF) Team presentations in theatre.

3 pm Vimy Flight (VF) Team presentations in theatre.

Included with the cost of admission.

The turnip or pumpkin, Halloween tradition.

Archival Moment

October 28, 2017

Why a Jack O’Lantern?

Halloween TurnipIn Newfoundland and Labrador the humble turnip that was long associated with Halloween has been replaced by the pumpkin.

Today, folklorist and historians would argue that our Irish and Scottish ancestors carrying the traditions that they grew up with would have carried those same traditions to the new world. One such tradition would have been to carve a turnip during Halloween in keeping with the story of ‘Jack of the Lantern.’

As the Irish tale goes, a man called Stingy Jack, a lazy and shrewd blacksmith, invited the devil for a drink and a little gambling.

During the evening Jack convinced the devil to change his form into a coin to pay his debts, if he should lose. The devil who off course never lost was quick to agree to change form. When the devil agreed, Stingy Jack decided he wanted the coin for other purposes, and kept the coin in his pocket beside a small, silver cross to prevent the devil from turning back into his old self.

When Jack died, God was not amused that Jack was playing with the temptations of the devil and refused to allow him into heaven. The devil, still furious with Jack wouldn’t allow him into hell. Jack was dispatched and was instead sent into the eternal night, with a burning coal inside a carved-out turnip to light his way. Poor Jack as a result has been roaming the earth ever since. In the Irish tradition this poor wandering soul is known as Jack of the Lantern,” it has since become “Jack O’Lantern.”

With Jack of the Lantern wandering about our ancestors in in Ireland and Scotland began to make their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving scary faces into turnips, placing them by their homes to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits and travelers.

When the Irish and Scots immigrated to North America, it was only natural that they should bring along the tradition of turnip carving during the Halloween season. In Newfoundland turnips were readily available and the turnip carving tradition continued for hundreds of years.

In the United States pumpkins were native and could be carved with much greater ease. The lowly turnip,Jack-o-Lanterns have been gradually displaced with the pumpkin Jack-o-Lanterns which have become an integral part of Halloween festivities ever since.

In some counties in Ireland there has been a movement to bring the lowly turnip back an uphill battle to displace the American pumpkin.

In Newfoundland the pumpkin is a relatively new addition, it was the glorious turnip that shone in the window of homes even into the 1970’s. The tradition of carving the pumpkin was likely originally introduced by American soldiers living on bases throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recommended Reading: The Dublin Penny Journal, July 1835. Page 229 – 231. ‘The Tradition of the Jack O’Lantern.’ Read More: https://books.google.ca/books?id=9gLSAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA230&dq=history+of+jack+o+lanterns&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qFtSVLSrIYflsATa2IHABw#v=onepage&q&f=false