St. Mary’s Bay in mourning, men marooned on ice, lost.

untitledArchival Moment

March 29, 1875

There was much excitement in the town of St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Bay on March 2, 1875, excitement that would by the end of the month turn into grieving.

The excitement was stirred by the sighting of a vessel 2 ½ miles from the shore of St. Mary’s,  the vessel was stuck in the ice. The men of  St. Mary’s  looked on this as an opportunity to salvage the vessel. A party of thirty four men and one young boy, 14 year old John Grace was quickly gathered and they started out on the ice too the brig, spending the day on board.

Toward evening they started back to St. Mary’s, but had not proceeded far when  they realized the terrible fact  that the ice had parted between them and the shore, and the opening was increasing every moment.

The men would be marooned on a pan of ice for the best part of the month, many died, and some would be rescued from the pan of ice by a the schooner Georg S. Fogg on route to Bermuda. The survivors were later transferred to a larger passing steamship, the Nurnberg, on route to Baltimore, Maryland.

It was on arrival in Baltimore that a reporter with the Baltimore Sun learned off the plight of the men from St. Mary’s and interviewed the men writing this story.

Andrew Mooney of St. Mary’s interview with the Baltimore Sun

Andrew Mooney a man of thirty six years, with an intelligent and honest countenance, who is among those of the Nuremberg said yesterday (March 28, 1875) that all were neighbors to each other, and nearly all were born in St. Mary’s. He and a number of others have large families, which they supported by fishing in the summer.

Mooney told the Baltimore Sun that when they saw that the ice had parted they realized they were in trouble.

The Baltimore Sun reported:

Consternation seized upon them as they hastened forward, and each threw away his heavy outer clothing as he ran, to be encumbered as little as possible. When the brink of the ice was reached the space of water between them and the shore was half a mile wide, the ice haven broken one mile from the land, and the immense field upon which they stood floating steadily further out to sea.

It was now quite dark, the party was exhausted and half-clad and they prepared for the terrible cold which soon set in. At first it rained until they were all wet to the skin. The rain then turned to sleet and snow, the wind veered to the northward, and the cold became intense, the fierce blast of the wind cutting them to the bone.

Then began the effort for life, the men stamping their feet, running madly about, and the more sturdy encouraging the weak and faltering. The cold still increased, as Mooney says, it had reached a degree of intensity not equaled before in that latitude this winter.

“When morning dawned several corpses were counted …”

At midnight the cold and exhaustion began to tell upon the doomed ones in the little party. First one and then another of them would lie down saying he could not go any further. The others would pick them up and try to keep them on their feet but after reeling for a short distance like drunken men they would fall senseless upon the ice and die without a struggle. Those able to keep their feet had enough to keep themselves from falling into fatal lethargy and with sad hearts each victim was left to his fate. Father or son or brother saw each other fall and were powerless to help. When morning dawned several corpses were counted at intervals along the ice and of the remainder none could tell who was to be the next victim.

On that terrible night, March 2, the boy and other delicate ones were placed in the middle of the throng as they stood or moved about and thus secured some shelter.

A field of ice twenty feet square floated near the brink of the ice in the open water, upon which nine of them got, hoping that it would float toward the shore ice and they could thus save themselves. When it had floated three hundred yards from the ice, upon which their comrades stood it grounded, and the unfortunates remained upon it for three days and nights, during which time six of them died, the other three being picked up by the schooner Georg S. Fogg on the 6th March.

When it is remembered that seven died on that first night, it is wonderful that three of the nine on the small icefield escaped alive, they having endured hunger as well as the cold. All the food they had in all that time was a small white fish which was frozen in the ice. This they divided between them.

The eighteen men remaining after the nine floated off the small ice field made their way back to the abandoned brig, which was tightly jammed in the ice, and was carried with it. All expected to die in her and some of them had lost their senses before reaching her the second time. There were no stores on the brig and they subsisted on molasses a few oranges and edible scraps that could be found.

“… a schooner was seen four miles away…”

At length, one evening at sunset, a schooner was seen four miles away, which had been caught in the same field that imprisoned the brig. That night the half famished men held a council and determined to reach the schooner next day or die in the effort. Next morning at daylight they embarked in the brig’s small boat, which could scarcely hold them all, and after struggling through the ice nearly all day reached the schooner George S. Fogg and were saved. There they met the three survivors of their nine comrades who left them nearly two weeks before, the three singularly enough, having been saved by the same vessel that had rescued the other eighteen.

Captain Spence gave them plenty of food, and if the prayers of these grateful, honest, poor Irish fishermen can avail to make his future life prosperous, he will never want on this earth’s stores.

The twenty one fishermen and crew of seven over crowded the little schooner, but the Captain had food enough for all, and all the discomfort that they experienced was from their circumscribed quarters. Some of the more robust of the party perished, and some of the more frail escaped, among them the boy James Grace.

The survivors were later transferred to a larger passing steamship, the Nurnberg, on route to Baltimore, Maryland.

To a question as to how the news would be received in St. Mary’s, Mooney replied, as he brushed a tear away, there is now mourning in every household, for they do not know that any of us are saved. He said that he had six children, and that some of those who had died have families equally as large.

Names of those from St. Mary’s who perished:

The names of the men who perished on the ice were: John Poole (this should read POWER) , Michael Poole (this should read POWER), James Vale, Michael Waile (this should read Vale) , Thomas Boone, Patrick Dobbin, Gregory Rouser, (this should read Rousell)  John Rouser (this should read Rousell) and Patrick Waile (this should read Vale) . Michael and Patrick Waile (this should read Vale)  were father and son Gregory and John Rouser (this should read Rousell)  were father and son.

The unmarried men were Joseph Grace, Patrick Leatham, Michael Barre (this should read Barry) , and William Boone.

Names of those from St. Mary’s brought to Baltimore:

Andrew Mooney and Thomas Mooney, brothers; William Ruben; Patrick and William Tobin, brothers; John Fuer (this should read Furey), James Grace (aged 14) whose brother Joseph Grace perished, James Peddle, Thomas Barre (this should read Barry) , perished, and Benjamin Sancrow (this should read St. Croix).

The ten Newfoundlanders were taken in charge by the British Consul on (March 29,1875) and were sent home in the Caspian, which  travelled between to Halifax  and Baltimore.

Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms Provincial Archives: GN 20/1 March 29, 1875, Baltimore Sun: Thrilling Story of the Sea. Adventure of thirty four men.

 

The Janeway Child and Rehabilitation Centre – An Impossible Dream Hospital

An Impossible Dream Hospital

The Old Janeway Hospital;

In August 1966, the Charles A. Janeway Child Health Centre opened and became a referral centre for all sick children in the province and became an affiliated hospital of Memorial University of Newfoundland Medical School. Before Confederation, child health care in Newfoundland and Labrador was below standards when compared to other Canadian provinces.

After Confederation some improvements were made particularly in public health but Dr. Cliff Joy, a pediatrician in 1958 felt that the hospital treatment of children was below standard and the province lacked a central referral centre for sick children. He advocated for a central free standing Child Health Centre in the Province.

In 1960 the Americans closed Pepperrell and made the base hospital available to the Province. The Newfoundland Medical Association, the Premier, the March of Dimes and the Rehabilitation Community wanted the Pepperrell hospital to be a Rehabilitation Centre.  Dr. Joy persisted and because of several events and the support of a several prominent Canadian and American pediatricians was able to persuade  Premier Joey Smallwood to make the Pepperrell Hospital a Child Health Centre.

Please join The Newfoundland Historical Society on Thursday, March 30 for the Newfoundland Historical Society’s monthly lecture. In this lecture, Dr. Rick Cooper will trace this story of the Janeway hospital, and the development of child health care in Newfoundland.

Born in St. John’s, Dr. Rick Cooper has been a pediatrician at Memorial University since 1974. He has conducted extensive research on the development of child health care in Newfoundland during the twentieth century, and has a forthcoming publication on the history of the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre (Boulder Publications).

Location: Hampton Hall, Marine Institute, Ridge Road, St. John’s

Date: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Time: 8pm

Admission is free.

Parking: Free parking is available in front and to the west of the building.

Please circulate this notice to family, friends and colleagues.

The NHS hosts FREE lectures on the last Thursday of the months of September, October, November, January, February, March and April. For more information:

Tel: (709)722-3191

E-mail: nlhistory@gmail.com

http://www.nlhistory.ca/

 

Killer avalanche hits Tilt Cove

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 11, 1912

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. VA 85-55: Tilt Cove

On March 11, 1912 an avalanche struck the mining community of Tilt Cove on the Baie Verte Peninsula. The avalanche struck two houses built at the head of the cove at the foot of a steep slope, one belonging to Mr. Francis Williams, manager of the Cape Copper Company, and the other belonging to a Mr. William Cunningham, JP, the telegrapher and customs officer.

William Cunningham’s daughter, Vera, was interviewed in 1996 – she was 95 at the time but vividly remembered life in Tilt Cove, and in particular the afternoon of March 11 1912. She recalled that the previous night, following a day of freezing rain a snow storm raged and this continued through the day. Her father came in for tea and said, prophetically, “this would be a great night for snow-sliding“.

Next door the Williams family was sitting down to tea, when a large avalanche swept down the slope and struck the Williams and Cunningham houses. The avalanche just glanced Doctor Smith’s house, which escaped with minor damage.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: Smith Family Collection: A 24-98.

The Williams house was  the most severely damaged, with the lower floor collapsing as the rear wall was staved in. The Cunningham house was swept off its foundation and Emily Day the family servant thrown across the kitchen and buried. She had three year-old Edward Cunningham in her arms and protected him against the weight of the snow. Unfortunately she was buried, jammed against the hot kitchen stove, by the time she was dug out,  two hours later, she was very severely burnt. Edward was only slightly injured with minor burns.  Her loving embrace had saved his life.

Emily survived but was badly hurt; she was sent to hospital in St. John’s but died on July 18. A headstone erected in her memory in the Anglican Cemetery on Forest Road, St. John’s reads:

“Emily Day, aged 29 years who died July 18, 1912 from injuries  received  while saving the life of a child in the Tilt Cove Avalanche.  Greater Love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”

The rest of the family survived almost unscathed.

Mr. Williams and his 13-year-old son (James) were killed instantly. The St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram reported, “the little boy was found dead with bread still in his mouth“. Peter and Francis Sage the two servants in the Williams household were also killed. Mrs. Williams and her two daughters were rescued after three and a half hours of burial, without serious injury.

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms Provincial Archives  is home  to a number of photographs detailing life in the mining community of  Tilt Cove can be found as well as occasional mining reports on the state and prospects for  mining in Tilt Cove.

Recommended Web Sites: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/environment/avalanches.html

http://www.nr.gov.nl.ca/nr/mines/outreach/disasters/avalanches/march11_12.html

Recommended Reading:  Killer Snow, Avalanches in Newfoundland by David Liverman., Flanker Press,St. John’s, 2007.

Influenza Epidemic Raging

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 2, 1919

Influenza Notices were  posted on all  Public Buildings.

In March 1919 Newfoundland  and Labrador was being ravaged with the dreaded Influenza Epidemic.

The local government and the churches were in the fore front of the fight against the spread of the dreaded disease. In St. John’s, on March 2, 1919,  the Catholic Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche, issued a Pastoral Letter removing any obligation of fast and abstinence during the 40 days of Lent. The rationale was that if Roman Catholics were observing the ritual Lenten fast and rules of abstinence that they might be weakening their immune systems making them more susceptible to the pandemic.

On March 12, 1919 a notice was read in all churches that:

“Owing to the prevalence of influenza among the people, His Grace the Archbishop by the authority of the Holy See, grants during this present Lent, a general dispensation from the fast, except on Good Friday”

A variation on the same notice was read in the churches of all denominations.

The move, thought small was unprecedented. One of the many steps that were taken to try and stop the spread of the disease.

St. John’s as an international port of call for ships from around the world was exposed to all the good and ill that came with its geographical location. In 1918 with the influenza epidemic raging throughout the world, it was only a matter of time before the province became vulnerable to the disease.

The pandemic reached Newfoundland on 30 September 1918 when a steamer carrying three infected crewmen docked at St. John’s harbour. Three more infected sailors arrived at Burin on October 4 and they travelled by rail to St. John’s for treatment. A doctor diagnosed the city’s first two local cases of influenza the following day and sent both people to a hospital. Within two weeks, newspapers reported that several hundred people were infected in St. John’s.

Soon after the outbreak, government officials closed many public buildings in St. John’s, including schools, churches, and meeting halls, and introduced quarantine regulations for incoming ships. Many outport communities also closed public buildings to curb the spread of influenza. By the time the epidemic was over, 62 deaths were reported in St. John’s and 170 more in outport Newfoundland.

The effects were most devastating in Labrador, where the disease killed close to one third of the Inuit population and forced some communities out of existence. Death rates were particularly high in the Inuit villages of Okak and Hebron.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Room Provincial Archives explore Death Records 1918-1919.  Reels 32 and 33 and GN 2/5. Special File 352-A, Colonial Secretary’s Department. “Correspondence Re: Outbreak of Epidemic Spanish Influenza in Newfoundland.” November 1918- June 1919.

Recommended Publication: Boats, Trains, and Immunity: The Spread of the Spanish Flu on the Island of Newfoundland.  Craig T. Palmer, Lisa Sattenspiel, Chris Cassidy: Newfoundland and Labrador Studies: Vol. 22 – Number 2 (2007) http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/NFLDS/article/view/10120/10396

 

 

A Newfoundland Saint in Placentia?

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

February 21, 1699

Didace Pelletier of Placentia.

Didace Pelletier of Placentia.

The road to being canonized  in the Roman Catholic Church can be  a very slow process as can be attested by those who  have been working  to have Didace Pelletier canonized a saint. Brother Didace has Newfoundland connections.  He worked in Placentia, Newfoundland at what was then called Our Lady of the Angels Parish from 1689-1692.

Claude Pelletier was born on June 28, 1657; his parents were Georges Pelletier and Catherine Vanier, from Dieppe, France.

As a little boy, he was sent to the apprentices’ school not far from Sainte Anne de Beaupré, Quebec where  he learned the carpenter’s trade, in which he excelled.

After learning his trade, he entered the Recollets ( a religious order of French Franciscans) at Quebec City in the autumn of 1678, at the age of twenty-one. He was clothed with the Franciscan habit in 1679, and received the name Didace in honor of a Spanish Saint, the patron of  Brothers; he made his religious vows one year later, in 1680.

Brother Didace lived at Our Lady of the Angels mission in Quebec City for another three or four year. Because of his talent as a carpenter, he played a large part in the construction work which the Recollets of that time were undertaking. He was sent to Bonaventure Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence  located 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) off the southern coast of Quebec’s  Gaspe’ Peninsula.  (1683-1689).

In 1869 he was sent to Plaisance (now Placentia), where he worked for three years on the construction of the first church in that town.

Following Placentia he was transferred to Montreal (1692-1696), and finally to Trois-Rivières, Quebec (1696-1699). It was Trois-Rivières, while doing carpentry work at the Recollets’ church, that he contracted a fatal case of pleurisy.

Brother Didace was rushed to hospital; there he requested the last Sacraments, despite the opinion of a doctor who declared him in no immediate danger.

After participating in the prayers for the dying, he  died on the evening of February 21, 1699.

Between 1700 and 1717 the bishops of Quebec set up nine hearings relating to at least 17 miracles attributed to Brother Didace.

Suggested Reading:   Cowans, Alan. “Pdletier, Didace.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol.1, ed. David M. Mayne, 336. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969.

Recommended on Line Reading: Victoria Taylor – Hood: A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Department of Religious Studies Memorial University of Newfoundland August, 1999. Newfoundland. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape10/PQDD_0035/MQ62435.pdf

Potholes and Gulches

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

February 19, 1880

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: E 32-7; Horses and sleighs loaded, Water Street, St. John’s.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: E 32-7; Horses and sleighs loaded, Water Street, St. John’s.

A word that is rarely used in Newfoundland and Labrador nowadays is the word “gulch”. (also gulche) Long before the term “pot hole” was used to describe a hole in the surface of the road, the preferred term was “gulch.”

In 1880 one of the issues that angered people was the state of the roads, so much so that some people wrote to the local papers to complain.

On February 19, 1880 in the local paper the Evening Telegram one subscriber wrote:

“Allow me through the columns of your valuable paper to draw attention of the government to the deplorable state of Water Street owning to the late heavy fall of snow. This street is almost impassable for man or beast, and unless something is speedily done, in the way of filling up the “gulches” traffic will be at a standstill.”

In February 1917 the local St. John’s newspaper the Daily News reported

“A heavy fall of snow brings its trouble to the horse traffic on our streets which are filled with gulches.”

The term “gulches” continues to appear in local publications until at least 1937.  The St. John’s, Evening Telegram reported:

“Traffic conditions on Torbay Road are very bad, the road being studded with many treacherous gulches”

Those who took the time to write to the local papers and complain had a legitimate concern. The horse was often their only means of transportation and these ‘potholes” or “gulches” presented a major problem.  If a horse stepped into a deep enough pothole or “gulche” there was the possibility that the animal could be crippled.  A broken ankle or leg was often fatal for a horse.

Long before “pothole” found a place in our vocabulary the preferred term to describe the phenomena was “gulch.”  In the United States and some parts of Canada  the preferred term to describe the phenomena was “chuckhole”  because  the ‘gulches”  were being created by chuck wagons  that were being used to carry food and cooking equipment on the prairies of the United States and Canada.

The first time that the term “pothole” was used was in 1826. The term “pothole” never took hold in Newfoundland until the 1940’s when we had the combined influence of the American invasion of culture and the automobile gradually replacing the horse.

When driving about the town – just as it was in 1880 – watch out for the gulches!!  I mean potholes!!

What are the current road conditions: http://www.roads.gov.nl.ca/default.htm

Recommended Archival Collection: GN2.19.2  File consists of a letter book  (1834-1836) of correspondence from the colonial secretary primarily to the outport road commissioners and to the commissioner for the relief of the poor. The correspondence recorded the allocation of public funds to roads and bridges both as a means of improving transportation and relieving poverty by providing employment.

 

 

Former Ocean Ranger medic gives rare photos to The Rooms

Former Ocean Ranger medic gives rare photos to The Rooms

Photo Credit: The Rooms A 41-36

Two photograph collections donated to The Rooms include about 100 personal photos from the Ocean Ranger, staff at The Rooms are trying to identify some of the men pictured in the photographs. After reaching out to Ocean Ranger families, the archivists are now asking anyone who might help with the identifications, or who might offer some context to the images. Read More:

http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/2017/2/14/former-ocean-ranger-medic-gives-rare-photos-to-the-rooms0.html

PLEASE NOTE: The February 14 performance of RIG: Voices from the Ocean Ranger Disaster has been cancelled due to impending severe weather. Call 709-757-8090 for tickets or email mailto:information@therooms.ca Tickets are available for February 15 and 16.

 

 

 

 

The Lawyer’s Valentine

Archival Moment

February 15, 1881

Love your lawyer!

Love your lawyer!

It is unfortunate but when it comes to matters of the heart the perception is that lawyers are not inclined to be romantic.  It has been said that they have difficulty establishing an ‘emotional connection’. They are in large part driven by logic. Love, of course, does not tend to be logical.

On Valentine’s Day, February 1881, a St. John’s lawyer sent a poem by the American poet, John B. Saxe to the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram determined to make the public aware that there were some in his profession that were deeply romantic. They just had/have their own language to express their romantic intentions.  The poem reads:

The Lawyer’s Valentine

I’m notified, fair neighbour mind,

By one of our profession,

That this, the term of Valentine,

Is Cupid’s Special Session.

Permit me, therefore, to Report

Myself, on this occasion,

Quite ready to proceed to Court,

and file my declaration.

I’ve an attachment for you, too;

A legal and a strong one;

O, yield onto the Process, do;

Nor let it be a long one.

No scowling bailiff lurks behind;

He’d be a precious noddy,

Who failing to arrest the Mind,

Should go and take the Body!

For though a form like yours might throw,

A sculptor in distraction;

I couldn’t serve a Capias, no;

I’d scorn so base an Action!

Oh, do not tell me off your youth,

And turn aware demurely,

For thought your very young in truth,

You’re not an infant surely!

The Case is everything me;

My heart is loves own tissue;

Don’t plead a Dilatory Plea;

Let’s have the General Issue!

Or since you’ve really no Defence,

Why not, this present Session,

Omitting all absurd defence

Give Judgement by Confession.

So, shall you be my lawful wife?

And I your faithful lover,

Be Tenant of your heart for Life.

With no Remainder over!

(Take some time to send this ‘Archival Moment’  to your lawyer. Perhaps your lawyer is your Valentine!)

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives see the Valentine cards of Marion Adams. During the First World War (1914 – 1918) , Marion Adams of St. John’s  received Valentine cards  from two suitors.

Source of Poem: The Lawyer’s Valentine, by John G. Saxe originally appeared in the New York Times, on February 18, 1860.

 

No flying saucers in Victoria Park

Archival Moment

February 1916

City outlaws crazy carpets and flying saucers.

City outlaws crazy carpets and flying saucers.

Signage declaring new regulations about sliding on the hills in St. John’s has been posted in public places throughout the city. The signage declares a whole raft of rules about what can and cannot be done when snow sliding.

Some think that this is a new  conversation, but the reality is that regulations about snow sliding or sledding in St. John’s started 100 years ago.

In 1916 “skating or sliding down the hills” was on the agenda of Newfoundland legislators, so much so  that the lawmakers opted to pass legislation about sliding.

In Chapter 51 of the Consolidated Acts, 1916 under the chapter title “Of Nuisances and Municipal Regulations” Section 14 the Act reads:

“The stipendiary magistrate may make regulations for preventing persons from coasting, skating or sliding down the hills or highways or streets …”

The focus of the legislation in 1916 was on the  “… skating or sliding down the hills or highways or streets…”  

There was a time when the ‘townies’ loved nothing more than grabbing their sleigh for a ride down of the steep hills of the city. The practice was however quite dangerous.

The local newspapers reported on an almost daily basis about individuals being injured on the hills of the town.

On January 14, 1916 the Evening Telegram reported:

“Boy Injured while sliding over Prescott Street”  Yesterday after noon,  newsboy met with a painful accident. He collided with another sled resulting in a deep wound being inflicted in his leg. The injured youth was brought to a nearby drug store for treatment and was later conveyed home and attended by a doctor. “

On February 18, 1916 under the headline “Dangerous practice the sliding of children” the Telegram reported:

“The sliding of children on the city heights is a very dangerous practice particularly on those hills near the street car rails. This morning two children of Hutching’s Street narrowly escaped being killed by a passing street car. The sled on which the youngsters were seated passing in front of the car’s fender by a couple of feet. “

The new signage posted on St. John’s hills and parks  (including Victoria Park) owned by the city comes after the city of St. John’s had to review  its liability in the wake of the city of Hamilton, Ontario being sued following an injury at a popular sledding hill . The City of Sudbury, Ontario in response to the same lawsuit responded by fencing off a sliding hill and banning tobogganing on public land outright.

Almost 100 years following the initial conversation about snow sliding on the hills of St. John’s the conversation continues. The warning signs in Victoria Park read no  “crazy carpets and flying saucers.”

Learn more about Victoria Park, St. John’s: Read More:

Learn more about Victoria Park:  https://www.facebook.com/VPRenewal/

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives. The consolidated statutes of Newfoundland : being a consolidation of the statute law of the colony down to and including the session of the Legislature in the year 1916 / printed and published by and under the authority of the Governor in Council, and proclaimed under the authority of the Act 9 and 10, George V., cap. X., 1918.

The longest-serving British monarch

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 83-93.1

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 83-93.1

 

Archival Moment

February 6, 1952

Newfoundland the First to put Princess now Queen Elizabeth on a Postage Stamp

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952, her coronation was held on June 2, 1953. The 16th-month span allowed for a mourning period following the death of her father King George VI, and also for preparations for the coronation ceremony held in Westminster Abbey.

Queen Elizabeth, since her accession to the throne in 1952, has made 22 official Royal visits to Canada, usually accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and sometimes by her children Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Queen Elizabeth has visited every province and territory in Canada.

Princess Elizabeth Nfld StampIn Newfoundland the first recognition given to the future Queen occurred in 1933 with the young Princess Elizabeth appearing on a Newfoundland postage stamp. This was the first portrait of the Princess on any postage stamp. Robson Lowe, the philatelist, says “this was for some years one of the most popular stamps in the world”

The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, made their first appearance in Newfoundland in 1951, on behalf of her ailing father. During the Royal Visit of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip to St. John’s, lasted just 26 hours, from 10:15 a.m. on November 11, Remembrance Day, to 12:15 noon on November 12, and involved ceremonies at the St. John’s waterfront, the St. John’s War Memorial, the Church of England Cathedral, Feildian Grounds and Government House.

In June 1959 the Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, undertook the longest royal tour in Canadian history, They began in St John’s, with a welcome from Prime Minister Diefenbaker and Premier J. R. Smallwood the Royal couple crossed the island to Stephenville and detoured through to Labrador.

Other visits included the official visit in 1978 that included her majesty attending the St. John’s Regatta and her most recent visit in 1997 marking the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s arrival in Newfoundland. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited St. John’s, Bonavista, North West River, Shetshatshiu, Happy Valley and Goose Bay.

Other short stop over’s in Newfoundland by the Queen have included.

1953 Newfoundland

1974 Gander, Newfoundland

1985 Gander, Newfoundland

1986 Gander, Newfoundland

1991 Gander, Newfoundland

The designation “Royal” has been given to number of institutions in the province including the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, (1979); Royal St. John’s Regatta, (1993); and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. (1917).

Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms Provincial Archives:  John Crosbie Perlin Collection, MG 370 . This series consists of scrapbooks compiled to document the activities of events including the Royal Visit by Queen Elizabeth II (1978).