Ode To Newfoundland


August 17, 1979

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives MG 956.110 Item consists of sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland. On left side a seal fisherman in oilskins holding Newfoundland pink, white and green with seal at his feet on right side a uniformed Royal Naval Reserve member, holding Union Jack, with Newfoundland dog.

On August 17, 1979, Royal Assent was given to legislation adopting the Ode to Newfoundland as the official provincial anthem of the province of Newfoundland.

The  song  the “Newfoundland”  now known as the “Ode To Newfoundland” was sung for the very first time on January 21, 1902 at the Casino Theatre in St. John’s.  The local St. John’s newspaper, The Daily News, reported that  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 original score was set to the music of E.R. Krippner, a German bandmaster living in St. John’s but Boyle desired a more dignified score. It was then set to the music of British composer Sir Hubert Parry, a personal friend of Boyle, who composed two settings.

The Daily News reporter knew that he had heard something special  when he heard the ‘Newfoundland’  being sung for the first time , he  wrote:   “he  (Boyle) has given us a poem which may be chosen as the Colony’s own anthem.”

On  June 21,1902  it was “resolved by the Committee of Council that the Ode “Newfoundland”, written by His Excellency Sir Cavendish Boyle, K.C.M.G., Governor of Newfoundland, with the musical setting by Professor E.R. Krippner, be approved, and officially recognized  as the Colonial Anthem.”  

That should have been it, all was required was the signature of the Governor.  The Governor however refused to sign. Arthur Mews, The Deputy Colonial Secretary of the day wrote:

“His Excellency (Governor Boyle) from motives of delicacy, did not formally approve the same at that time.”

The “delicacy’ was that  Governor Boyle was  both author of the Ode and Governor, it simply did not look proper that he sign off on his own Ode.

The Premier of the day, Sir Robert Bond, determined  that the Ode  become the official anthem suggested that given the hesitation of  Governor Boyle  that approval be  given by the Hon. W.H. Horwood, C.J. , Administrator of the Government.  But it was not to happen.

By 1904, the ‘Newfoundland’  had become firmly established, in the minds  of most people,  as the “official anthem”  of the Dominion of Newfoundland,  there was no Government function without the ‘Newfoundland’, it was sung at most public gatherings, in parish halls and concert halls.   It was so firmly established  that in the 1909 General Election, Robert Bond proposed that if elected he would be certain  to  make it the “official”  anthem of the country.

Bond lost the election.

Nothing was said of the official status of the Ode until 1972.   Frank Graham in his book  “We Love Thee Newfoundland” Biography of Sir Cavendish Boyle, wrote:

“At an event in St. John’s it was observed that a certain military group failed to observe protocol and the proprieties by coming to attention and showing the proper respect during the playing of Newfoundland’s anthem. The commanding officer was called on the carpet to explain the unseemly conduct of his men.  The officer defended himself and his group  by explaining that there was noting on the statue books to confirm the fact that the Ode  was Newfoundland’s Provincial anthem.  It transpired that he was right.”

In 1974  their was a resurgence of interest in making the Ode official, (driven by Lieutenant Governor, Gordon A. Winter,)  that resulted in the introduction  of the Provincial Anthem Act  for the Province of Newfoundland.  On May 2, 1975 the legislation  became official. It reads:

“The poem commonly called the Ode to Newfoundland, composed by Sir Cavendish Boyle, Governor of Newfoundland  from 1901 -1904, as it appears in the schedule is adopted as the provincial anthem of the Province of Newfoundland and shall be officially known and recognized as the Ode to Newfoundland.”

The Ode  to Newfoundland

When sun rays 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 shimmering white

at winter’s stern command

Through shortened days and

starlit nights we love thee frozen land

We love thee, we love thee, we love thee frozen land.

We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, frozen land.

When blinding storm gusts fret thy shores

and wild waves wash their strands,

Through spindrift swirls and tempest roars

we love thee windswept land,

We love thee, we love thee, we love thee

windswept land.

We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, windswept land.

As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood, we stand;
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland

God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland

Recommended Archival Collection: Take some time to look at  MG 956.110 at the Rooms;  this cover illustration featuring the Ode to Newfoundland depicts some of the iconic symbols and images of Newfoundland and Labrador. https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Book: “We Love Thee Newfoundland” Biography of Sir Cavendish Boyle, K.C.M.G. Governor of Newfoundland 1901 -1904 by Frank W. Graham.  Creative Printers, St. John’s, 1979.

Recommended Reading:  Geoff Butler, Ode to Newfoundland. Lyrics by Sir Cavendish Boyle. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2003.


Portuguese Commemorate Newfoundland Connections

August 17, 2017

Portuguese Fishermen

The Commanding Officer of the Portuguese, Naval Ocean Patrol vessel, NRP Viana do Castelo has confirmed that it will be docking in St. John’s on Thursday, August 17th and his crew will lay a memorial wreath in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, St. John’s at the grave of White Fleet fisherman, Dionisiv Esteves.

The wreath laying ceremony will take place on Thursday morning, August 17 at 11:00 a.m. The short ceremony, in the cemetery at Kennas Hill and the Boulevard.

 Dionisiv Esteves, died during the 1966 fishing campaign while unloading his daily catch of codfish. He was crushed between his swamped dory and the steel hull of the fishing vessel Santa Maria Manuela. His unmarked grave site, which was discovered, (four years ago) has come to symbolize all those Portuguese fishermen who lost their lives fishing on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador.

 Since the grave was discovered the daughter of Dionisiv Esteves has come forward to learn more about the father that she never met.  His brother, Fernando Esteves has also come forward to make inquiries about the resting place of his brother.  Last year a Portuguese film crew began filming for a documentary that tells the story of Dionisiv Esteves and the Portuguese fishermen working in the North Atlantic.

 This year Captain Tenente  of the Viana De Castello will be assigning  naval personnel for the Mt Carmel wreath laying ceremony.  The ceremony is an attempt to recall the long association of the people of Newfoundland with the ‘White Fleet.’

 Also attending the service will be Admiral Henrique Lila Morgado the assistant to the chief of Staff of the Portuguese Navy.

 Immediately following this ceremony, a short visit to the Fatima Grotto at the Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist will take place.  The Statue of the Lady of Fatima was a gift to the people of St. John’s from the Portuguese White Fleet fishermen in 1955. This was traditionally the altar that the Portuguese fishermen of the ‘White Fleet’ prayed at before they left the port of St. John’s to return to the Grand banks and eventually home.

 The Viana De Castello is part of a fisheries inspection mission in the NAFO zone off the Grand Banks. The vessel I will remain in port until August 19.

 The  Portuguese Commanding Officer  invites the public to attend these ceremonies.


Local businessman and author, Jean Pierre Andrieux  was responsible  for spearheading a financial campaign four years ago to raise funds to erect a memorial at the grave site of Esteves that now serves to remember all Portuguese fishermen who lost their lives fishing in Newfoundland waters.

 The wreath laying ceremony is open to the public. Those attending are encouraged to use the Kenna’s Hill entrance to the cemetery.


11:00: Mount Carmel Cemetery

11:45: Basilica Cathedral

 In case of  inclement weather (rain) all events will be moved to the Basilica Cathedral.  



Lady Day Fish


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.


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.”

 What is happening at The Rooms on August 15th? https://www.events.therooms.ca/Events/default/calendar/agendaWeek/date/2017-08-14

The phrase, “The First 500”  was born.

Archival Moment

August 12, 1914

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The origin of the phrase  “The First 500”  can likley be traced to the Church Lads Brigade Armoury, St. John’s on August 12, 1914.

On August 13, 1914 the local St. John’s newspaper reported:

“The public meeting at the C.L.B .Armoury last night (August 12, 1914) to consider the question of enlisting volunteers for land service abroad and home defense during the war, was very largely attended. All classes were represented and the greatest enthusiasm prevailed. “

The meeting was called by His Excellency Sir Water E. Davidson, the Governor of Newfoundland, and the official representative of the British crown. The Governor arrived at the Armoury “and was greeted by an outburst of cheering while the C.L.B. Armoury played the national Anthem.”

In addressing the crowd, the Governor said:

 “It behooves every British subject to aid the mother country, to finish the fight, as speedily as possible. Newfoundland must do her part laying claim as we do to being the oldest and the most loyal colony. In my telegram to the home Government, I stated we were poor in money and rich in men who are accustomed to meet all difficulties without wavering.”

The Governor continued:

I pleaded myself that Newfoundland would furnish 500 men, but I hope the number will be 5,000. “

The meeting at the Armoury concluded with a resolution that “a Committee of twenty five citizens be appointed to take such steps as may be deemed necessary for enlisting and equipping these men …”

On August 22, 1914, a call for volunteers was issued and within days 335 had signed up; two thirds from St. John’s cadet brigades. By September 26, nearly 1000 volunteers had been recruited and went to the Church Lads Brigade building on Military Road in St. John’s to enlist. Roughly half passed the required medical exams and moved to tent lines established at nearby Pleasantville.

The iconic phrase, ‘The First 500”  was born.

Recommended Exhibit: BEAUMONT-HAMEL AND THE TRAIL OF THE CARIBOU 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. https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/always/beaumont-hamel-and-the-trail-of-the-caribou

The Newfoundland Regiment and The Great War: The First World War had an immense impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. This interactive site offers comprehensive information on the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, including over 3,000 individual soldier files, interactive maps, in-depth battle explanations, and hundreds of images of artifacts, many in 3-D.  https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/the-beginning/entering-the-great-war


“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, the oldest continuous sporting event in North America, it 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.

See you at Quidi Vidi with the other laboring classes!!  I may be in the modern day version  of the  ‘aquatic tents”.

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 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


Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division: A54-150; Crowds at Quidi Vidi Lake for the Royal St. John’s Regatta.


August 2, 2016


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 6:00 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.


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 Museum: Special tours and visitation to the Royal Regatta Museum are available upon request. If you wish to make a special appointment to visit the Museum, please call the Boathouse at: (709) 576 – 8921.

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


Cod liver oil from Newfoundland


July 30, 1946


Cod Liver Oil from Newfoundland was served to the orphan children of Europe after WWII

On  (July 30, 1946) the generous financial response to a plea to assist the poor children of Europe in the wake of WWII  from the people of Canada and Newfoundland, that realized  approximately $150,000 in relief supplies was acknowledged.

In a Vatican State document entitled “Pleading for the Care of the World’s Destitute Children” one of the  first documents bringing to the attention of the world the desperate state of the children of Europe in the wake of the war it was written:

“Without home, without clothing, they shiver in the winter cold and die. And there are no fathers or mothers to warm and clothe them. Ailing, or even in the last stages of consumption, they are without the necessary medicines and medical care. We see them, too, passing before Our sorrowful gaze, wandering through the noisy city street, reduced to unemployment and moral corruption, or drifting as vagrants uncertainly about the cities, the towns, the countryside, while no one — alas-provides safe refuge for them against want, vice and crime.”


In addition to financial support, Newfoundlanders were also thanked for the six tons of cod liver oil that “they have been able to ship abroad this year (1946), for the children of Europe.”

Cod Liver Oil is pressed from the fresh liver of the cod and purified. It is one of the best-known natural sources of vitamin D, and a rich source of vitamin A. Because cod liver oil is more easily absorbed than other oils, it was formerly widely used as a nutrient and tonic.

Even before the end of WWII the realization that something would have to be done for the health of the children in war torn Europe was under discussion.  In Newfoundland a process was put in place to begin to secure a  considerable quantity of cod-liver oil so it could be distributed at the end of the war in those regions where the health conditions of  poor children demanded it. In Newfoundland, local businessman P.J. Lewis was charged with finding the cod liver oil and looking at how it could be transported to the  children in Europe.

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 38.3  this file consists of Despatches from Secretary, to  the Governor, 10-’44 includes  discussion about the possible production of dehydrated cod in Newfoundland; 74-’44 Newfoundland fish for the British Food Mission and  210-’44 Fish for relief purposes after the war.

Recommended Cookbook: Salt Cod Cuisine: The International Table by Edward A. Jones, Boulder Publications, Portugal Cove, NL . June 2013 The cultural and culinary tradition of salt cod is celebrated in this very special cookbook—and while it is focused on Newfoundland and Labrador, the recipes take us to the many countries that feature salt cod cuisine.

Listen to this variant of Cod-Liver Oil by Ryan’s Fancy with lyrics so you can sing along http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/25/oil2.htm

Recommended Museum: At the Rooms Provincial Museum visit the Elinor Gill Ratcliff Gallery and explore the ‘Rural Health and Medicine Exhibit.’  Find the bottle of cod liver oil!!

Recommended Exhibit:  Cod was King! https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/now/cod-was-king

Did you know you can split a cod at The Rooms?