Public bath houses for the spoiled men of St. John’s

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

April 15, 1890

Painting: Hans Bock der Ältere, The Baths at Leuk

Painting: Hans Bock der Ältere, The Baths at Leuk

An “outport visitor” to St. John’s in April 1890 was quite shocked to hear that it was the “intention of some young men of St. John’s to petition the government to establish public baths.”   The ‘outport visitor’ was so troubled that he penned a letter to the Editor of the St. John’s  newspaper the Evening Telegram making his objections known.

The ‘outport visitor’ wrote to the newspaper that he saw “the necessity of the baths” but  “to  ask the Government to establish them is something beyond human imprudence, and I should be surprised to find the people of St. John’s backing up such a proposal.”

At the time a ‘bath house’ was essentially a large room with rain showers and a plunge pool, a large swimming pool.

The idea of ‘public baths’, at this time, was a concept that was taking hold in many cities in North America.  Most homes did not have indoor toilet facilities or any kind of bath facilities. The young men of St. John’s were aware that in United States, there was a progressive move for cities to build public baths. Some cities in North America  saw the idea of ‘public baths’  as a  ‘moral imperative’ a Brooklyn, New York  newspaper  editor wrote :

“… it is a duty of the public, as its own government, to educate [the poor] out of their condition, to give baths to them that they may be fit to associate together and with others without offense and without danger. A man cannot truly respect himself who is dirty. Stimulate the habit of cleanliness and we increase the safety of our cities. And give over the idea that a free bath is any more of a “gratuity” than the right to walk in the public streets.”

In Newfoundland the “outport visitor” had little time for such considerations. He argued if the:

‘public baths’ were approved next you would have “the young men petitioning the Government to provide them with soap and towels for their daily ablution… I should have thought that there was enough of private enterprise in St. John’s to start baths, where each person might obtain admittance on payment of a penny or so for each occasion.  But if this cannot be done, let these young men apply to Municipal Council to give them baths.”

The letter continued; if the young men of St. John’s can have a bath house at the expense of the taxpayers why not the men of Twillingate, Bonavista, Trinity, Harbour Grace and Placentia.   He concluded, it would be an injustice to establish a ‘bath house’ in St. John’s at the expense of the tax payers.

It was all too much for the ‘outport visitor’; he concluded that if ‘municipal officials’ could consider luxuries like ‘bath houses’ for their young men of St. John’s, then they were getting too much money from the Government. He wrote: “St. John’s has been the petted child of every Government and the people of St. John’s are spoiled.”

The ‘outport visitor’ who wrote the letter to the editor was not aware that St. John’s had a long tradition of supporting ‘bath houses’.  The “Princess Bath” on Water Street was advertising that it was open to the public as early as July 1860.  The advertisement for the Princess Bath read:

“The public of Newfoundland, visitors and travellers, are informed that the town of St. John’s is at length supplied with … Hot, Cold, Vapor and Shower, Salt and Fresh Water BATHS: also Salt Water Swimming BATHS …[with] separate departments for Ladies and Gentleman – and is situated on  Water Street  near the Galway Steamship Company’s  Wharf. Open from 6 am – 9 pm summer and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Winter  and from 3 – 6 p.m. on Sundays.   A female superintends the ladies department.”

With the introduction of indoor plumbing and bathing facilities in the home  ‘public baths’  were gradually replaced by the more conventional swimming pools.

Recommended Archival Collection:  A great place to discover history is in the pages of our local newsappers. Take some time to explore  the newspaper collections in your city or town. Ffom your desktop take some time to explore  Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative (DAI), your gateway to the learning and research-based cultural resources. The DAI hosts a variety of collections which together reinforce the importance, past and present, of Newfoundland and  Labrador’s history and culture.  Read More: http://collections.mun.ca/

Recommended Reading:  Washing “the Great Unwashed” Public Baths in Urban America, 1840-1920 (Urban Life and Urban Landscape Series) Ohio State University, 1991

 

Who took the first distress call from the Titanic at Cape Race?

Archival Moment

April 14, 2012

titanic-maiden-journeyOn April 14, 1912, there were three telegraph operators on site at the Marconi Company Wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.  Walter Gray, Jack Goodwin and Robert Hunston .

Shortly after the first distress call, from the Titanic, Robert Hunston  at Cape Race observed in his log book  “The Titanic Disaster as Viewed from Cape Race”

J.C.R. Goodwin on watch hears Titanic calling C.Q.D. giving position 41.44 N 50.24 W about 380 miles SSE of Cape Race.”

Water Gray, the man in charge of the Marconi Station at Cape Race later wrote a book (The Life Story of an Old Shetlander, 1970) about the experience at Cape Race on the night of the disaster. He wrote:

“Later in the evening the second operator called out:  “Mr. Gray the Titanic has struck an iceberg and is calling C.Q.D. I immediately dropped what I was doing and ran to the operating room.” 

Is it possible that all three wireless operators were away from their post (a total break with company policy) and that the only person in the wireless operating room at the time – when the distress call was given by the Titanic was a very curious 14 year old boy named James (Jimmy) Myrick?

Dave Myrick, President of the former Irish Loop Amateur Radio Group lays claim that his great uncle, James (Jimmy) Myrick who was then 14 years old, was visiting the Marconi Station and was alone for a few minutes during which time he heard the Titanic’s first CQD/SOS message.

The family contends that James (Jimmy) Myrick swore to the three  wireless operators that he would protect their jobs – that he would not take credit for being the first to take the message. He kept his secret , only confessing  the truth to his family when he was an old man confident that he had been true to his promise to the Marconi operators when they lived.

At the Marconi Wireless Station that night all communication with the residents of Cape Race and the province (then country) fell silent.   Not even the Prime Minister or Governor were allowed any information.  The three wireless workers were instructed by head office in Montreal that “operators are bound to secrecy” and were not to release any information.

At Cape Race that morning – the Lighthouse Keeper – John  Myrick who lived just a few feet from the Marconi Station  noted in his journal

 “ The Titanic of the White Star Line struck an ice berg off here last night and went down. She was on her first voyage, a lot lost.”

If the Marconi Operators were sworn to silence – the only source that John Myrick would have had for this information may have been young Jimmy Myrick – who may have taken that first distress call.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division: The Cape Race Log Book:  A journal of predominantly one line entries highlighting events of local, national and international interest, as maintained by various members of the Myrick family at Cape Race. The journal includes reference to the sinking of the Titanic.

Another Newfoundland Connection:   http://archivalmoments.ca/2012/04/my-god-gray-the-titanic-has-struck-a-berg/

 

 

 

 

 

Why are the Catholics hiding in the hills?

Archival Moment

April 13, 1829

Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore Oral history purports that Mass Rock was the site of secret Catholic gatherings.

Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore Oral history purports that Mass Rock was the site of secret Catholic gatherings.

On April 13, 1829 a significant milestone in Irish history was reached when King George IV reluctantly gave royal assent to the Roman Catholic Relief Act.

This Act effectively removed a series of laws known as Penal Laws or Popery Laws that severely limited the ability of a Catholic to do anything.

Some of the laws included:

•     Forbid a Catholic from exercising his religion

•     Forbid the Catholic from receiving a Catholic education

•     Forbid the Catholic from entering a profession

•     Forbid the Catholic from holding Public Office

•     Forbid the Catholic from owning a horse worth more than 5 pounds

•     Forbid the Catholic from buying or leasing land

•     Forbid the Catholic from voting

•     Forbid the Catholic from receiving a gift or inheritance of land from a Protestant

•     Forbid the Catholic from renting any land that was worth more than thirty shillings

•     Forbid the Catholic from sending their children abroad for an education

Upon receipt of the news that the Penal Laws had been struck down Bishop Thomas Scallan in St. John’s, Newfoundland declared 21st  May a day of public thanksgiving.  In St. John’s and other major towns throughout the island, bands, parades, and special church services evidenced the pleasure of Catholics that the penal restrictions of centuries had been lifted.

However, their joy was short-lived; by December the colony’s attorney general, James Simms, and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland had concluded that the relief bill was inoperative in the colony of Newfoundland.  Catholic emancipation did not finally come to Newfoundland until the proclamation of representative government and the calling of the first elections on 26 August 1832.

It was during the years when the Penal Laws were in effect that traditions such as the Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore and  Pulpit Rock in the Torbay area  were developed. Oral history purports that Mass Rock  and Pulpit Rock were  the site of secret Catholic gatherings. Disguised priests and settlers would gather to celebrate mass or say prayers while lookouts were stationed at vantage point to spot English authorities. While no official record exists of the activities at Mass Rock and Pulpit Rock , a legendary cycle regarding the sites  continues to exists.

Archival Collection: To explore some of the issues that were being discussed read the Colonial Office Records (CO 194 -678-83) Governor Cochrane’s Correspondence at The Rooms Provincial Archives.

Recommended Reading: Irish In Newfoundland 1600-1900 by Michael McCarthy, Creative Book Publishing, St. John’s, 1999. This book paints a vivid picture of the Irish experience from the early days of anti-Catholic persecution in Newfoundland when a house could be burned to the ground simply because Mass had been said there.

Recommended Website: Laws in Ireland for the Suppression of POPERY commonly known as the PENAL Laws.  Read More:  http://library.law.umn.edu/irishlaw/index.html

No Tidings of the Southern Cross

Archival Moment

April 7, 1914

No Tidings of the Southern Cross

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: LS 48 S.S. Southern Cross

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: LS 48 S.S. Southern Cross

On April 7, 1914, the St. John’s daily newspaper the Evening telegram reported:

 “Much anxiety and grave concern is being felt for the Southern Cross. Her non arrival is causing universal alarm but there is no reason why hope should be abandoned.

Exactly a week ago (April 2, 1914)  this forenoon Captain T. Connors  of the Coastal S.S. Portia  passed the Southern Cross five miles W.S.W.  of Cape Pine. That same afternoon the fatal blizzard came in and it is believed the Southern Cross was driven off to sea a couple of hundred miles and since then has not been able to reach the land.

Ever since it was reported by Captain Connors relatives and friends of loved ones on board have been besieging  the telegraph offices  in the city and outports and the eager information “Have you any news of the Southern Cross”  is sought for but unfortunately the reply is always in the negative.

However the Southern Cross is only a week overdue and this is not considered long by nautical men as the records will show.  The crew of the Southern Cross whose names have already been published  belong to St. John’s, Conception Harbour, Brigus, Clarke’s Beach, Bay Roberts, Harbour Grace , Spaniards bay and St. Vincent’s.

On April 6 the absence of the Southern Cross was discussed by the Executive Government (Cabinet) and it was decided to send the revenue cruiser Flona to assist the Kyle and the U.S. Scout  ship Seneca in searching for the overdue vessel. The unanimous hope is that the “Cross” will turn up all right.”

The whole of the country of Newfoundland was mourning.  All were aware of the 78 sealers who had died on the S.S. Newfoundland.  The bodies of many of these men had been placed on special trains to be sent home.  Those that were not along the train route were being sent home by coastal vessels.

Among those that were on their way home to be buried was the body of Patrick Corbett, age 22, lost on the S.S. Newfoundland.   Joseph Corbett the head of the household was now waiting for news on his 18 year old son Joseph Jr.  a sealer on the S.S. Southern Cross.

The Parish Priest in Clarke’s Beach, Reverend Whelan observed that it was a difficult time on the family “Joseph the father is subject to heart trouble, he depends on the assistance of these two young men for the support of his now helpless family. I greatly fear that he will not last much longer …”

It would be thirteen more days before the S.S. Southern Cross was declared lost with her whole crew.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the Sealers Crew Agreement and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross is also included on this collection.

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

Newfoundland Prime Minister Escapes Riot

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

April 5, 1932

RIOT CAUSES EXTENSIVE DAMAGE TO THE COLONIAL BUILDING

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 2-167; A boy removes heater during the riot at the Colonial Building

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 2-167; Two boys remove a  heater during the riot at the Colonial Building. April 5, 1932.

On (April 5, 1932) a crowd gathered in front of the Colonial Building on Military Road, St. John’s to express their concern and displeasure with the manner in which the Richard Squires’ Government was administering the affairs of the Colony.

In 1932, Squires’ finance minister, Peter John Cashin, resigned from the executive council accusing his fellow cabinet ministers of widespread corruption and Squires himself of having falsified council minutes to hide the fact that he had been receiving secret payments out of public funds. Cashin’s charge inflamed a public which had already been seized by discontent due to the deteriorating economic situation in the province.

What had begun as a peaceful demonstration had quickly escalated to a full scale riot. Every window in the building was beaten out; furniture was dragged from the Colonial Building and destroyed on the grounds, and the members of the Government, who were still inside the Building, feared for their lives. The Police responded to the mob with more violence, beating back the rioters with their batons.

The Prime Minister, Sir Richard Squires, barely escaped the building. Though accounts of his escape vary, it seems that he waited until 7:30 that evening when the mob had quieted down and exited the building by the front door to make his way to a waiting car.

Some of the rioters still lingered in the area, and upon recognizing the Prime Minister making his escape, they charged at him and he had to rush into a house on Colonial Street.

Clergy from churches in the area were called; they stood on the steps of the house on Colonial Street exhorting the men to return to their homes. The rioters pursued Prime Minister Squires into the residence, but by the time they had gained entry he had made his escape through the back door.

The result of the riot was a tremendous amount of damage to the Colonial Building, at an estimated cost of $10,000, not to mention the numerous personal injuries which were suffered in the affray.

From 1850 to 1959, the Colonial Building was witness to Newfoundland’s unique political story – from colony to nationhood, from nationhood to the suspension of democracy during the Commission of Government years, and onwards to provincial status within Canada.

Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms Provincial Archives has a small collection of photographs taken during the riot.

Recommended Museum Visit:  At The Rooms Provincial Museum visit the exhibit ‘Here, We Made a Home’ in The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4. This exhibit highlights some of the events associated with the political history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recommended Website:  http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/colonial/default.html

The Colonial  Building  is currently closed for renovations. Re-opening in the future with new exhibits and restored interiors.

“Representing himself to be another …”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

“Representing himself to be another … Philip Dohey and Charles Foley”

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: LS 51; S.S. Bellaventure crew bringing bodies and survivors of the S.S. Newfoundland Sealing Disaster aboard ship.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: LS 51; S.S. Bellaventure crew bringing bodies and survivors of the S.S. Newfoundland Sealing Disaster aboard ship.

One of the men that died in the Sealing Disaster of 1914 was Charles Foley of St. Bride’s, Placentia Bay.  The irony was that Charles Foley did not have a berth on the S.S. Newfoundland; his name is NOT listed in the Sealers Crew Agreement.

The oral tradition in St. Bride’s was that Philip Dohey was one of the crew on the S.S. Newfoundland but at the last minute gave his berth to his friend Charles Foley. This “personating or representing himself to be another” was frowned upon, so much so that the Agreement signed between Captain Wesley Kean of the S.S.  Newfoundland and Philip Dohey on March 4, 1914 read:

 “If any man should sign a false name not his own and shall proceed in the said vessel personating or representing himself to be another, it shall be the option of the masters or suppliers to withhold from him any share of the voyage.”

His determination to find a berth on the S.S. Newfoundland to the extent that he would “represent himself to be another’ may have been a commentary on the economy of the day. The seal fishery represented the only source of cash income that would transition their families from the long winter into the approaching summer fishery.

Between March 31 and April 2, 1914 disaster struck. The men of the S.S. Newfoundland found themselves on the ice, stranded in a blinding snowstorm with freezing temperatures. In the 54 hours they were stranded, many died.

The local paper the Evening Telegram in St. John’s reported in April 1914 about the bodies being removed from one of the rescue vessel, the S.S. Bellaventure that had pulled into St. John’s Harbour.

 “The vision sent a shudder through the crowd. The bodies had been laid there just as they were brought in from the ice, many of them with limbs contracted and drawn up in postures which the cold had brought about.”

The task of identifying the 69 dead and 8 missing men was given to Dr. Alexander Campbell, the port doctor in St. John’s. Using the Sealers Agreement register, Dr. Campbell declared crew member #78; Philip Dohey missing.

It was not until April 30, 1914 that authorities confirmed that crew #78 was in fact not Philip Dohey but Charles Foley.

Crew #78 was the last of the 78 men declared dead.

Sealers Agreement, Philip Dohey #78

Sealers Agreement, Philip Dohey #78

Officially the Sealers Crew Agreement, now  held at the Rooms Provincial Archives continues to read, Philip Dohey missing.

Philip  is not known to have spoken about giving up his berth on the S.S. Newfoundland to his friend. No doubt he pondered what fate had been dealt to him.

Charles Foley is not in the official register but he is  remembered at the “Home from the Sea, Sealers Memorial” in Elliston, Trinity Bay where all those who lost their lives prosecuting the seal fishery in the spring of 1914 are engraved on a stone tablet.

 

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the Sealers Crew Agreement and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross is also included on this collection.

Recommended Exhibit:  The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, using animation, survivor testimony and archival footage. You can also view the short film from your own home at https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

Recommended Reading:  PERISHED by Jenny Higgins (2014) offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  More than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents illustrate this amazing book.

Bodies all identified and sent home

Archival Moment

” deep in silent grief”

April 6, 1914

The bodies of the sealers were sent home by special train. The corpses were taken away from the hall in sleighs. In the entire procession thousands of men and boys took part.

Photo Credit:  The Rooms Provincial Archives. The bodies of the sealers were sent home by special train. The corpses were taken away from the hall in sleighs. In the entire procession thousands of men and boys took part. (Click on photo to enlarge)

On April 6, 1914 the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram reported:

“Yesterday, there was a wave of sympathy on every street and in every home in St. John’s.  The Grenfell Hall or temporary mortuary room, where the bodies were brought for identification was filled all day with sorrowing relatives and friends of the deceased brethren.”

The bodies were those of the 77 sealers from the sealing vessel the S.S. Newfoundland who had perished on the ice on March 31 – April 2.  The Grenfell Hall was also known as the King George V Seamen’s Institute.  The frozen bodies of dead sealers were thawed in vats of hot water in the basement of the building.

The Telegram continued:

“Standing outside the Hall all day was a multitude deep in silent grief.  The solemnity of the occasion will be remembered for generations to come.

At 5’ o’clock all the bodies were identified. Thirty eight bodies were sent home by special train. The corpses were taken away from the hall in sleighs. In the entire procession thousands of men and boys took part.

One body was drawn on the gun carriage of the H.M.S. Caypso, the departed sealer being a member of the Naval Reserve.  The bodies numbering 25, belonging to outports where there are no direct train communication, were hermetically sealed and brought to the morgue last night and will be sent home by steamer.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the  Sealers Crew Agreement  and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross  is also included on this collection.

Recommended ReadingPERISHED  by Jenny Higgins (2014) offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  More than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents illustrate this amazing book.

Recommended Film:The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, uses animation, survivor testimony and archival footage view the short film from your own home: https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

 

Is there a Stradivari in St. John’s?

Archival Moment

MARCH 19, 1892

ViolinThere was much discussion in the music community in St. John’s on March 19, 1892, conversation driven by a news item in the St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram, about the possibility of an authentic Cremona violin, dated 1681 in the city.  This was no ordinary violin this was reputed to have been created by the master genius of violin-makers, the maestro of Cremona, Antonius Stradivari.

Antonio Stradivari (1644 -1737) set up his shop in Cremona, Italy, where he painstakingly handmade made violins and other stringed instruments. He took a basic concept for the violin and refined its geometry and design to produce an instrument which is now the standard. Stradivari’s violins have been judged by history to be the best.

The owner of the alleged ‘strad’ in St. John’s was “Mr. P. Roche, a storekeeper of this city”. Roche was according to the St. John’s Business Directory for 1890; a storekeeper working for the business; J and W Pitts located on at 24 South West (Water) Street. He had done some preliminary work on investigating the provenance of his violin. The Telegram reported:

“The word (the name of the maker) and the figures (year)  are inscribed on the inside of the back (of the violin) and may be seen by looking through the scroll worked holes in the front of the instrument.”

The article went on to read:

“There are five known famous violins by a celebrated maker from that city, (Cremona) each of them worth hundreds of guineas. One has been in New York, one in Munich, and one in London; three are still missing.  There are very many less famous Cremona violin, whether Mr. Roche’s belongs to the most celebrated class, he is taking steps to find out. It was purchased many years ago by his brother in Halifax.”

What happened to the violin?  We really do not know – perhaps it remains with the descendants of Mr. Roche who may not be aware of the fine instrument that they have!!

Today, a conservative estimate on the value of the violin, if it were authentic, would range from $1 to $5 million.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives: MG 591 Kiwanis Music Festival programmes, 1951-1976; Music Festival Association of Newfoundland booklets re: regulations, schedule etc., 1966-1976.

Recommended Reading: Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work (1644-1737) W. Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill & Alfred E. Hill  Originally Published in 1902

Support the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra:  Read More:  http://www.nso-music.com/

An awesome and beautiful work of art

ARCHIVAL MOMENT
March 9, 1855

The Redeemer in Death, Basilica Cathedral, St. John's.

The Redeemer in Death, Basilica Cathedral, St. John’s.

Edward Morris a St. John’s businessman and politician in his diary dated March 9, 1855 wrote:

“went to the Cathedral (now the Basilica) to see Hogan’s sculptured ‘Dead Christ’ which was placed today under the Great Altar. A magnificent piece of art ordered by Dr. Fleming , (Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming) before his death. It cost 600 ponds sterling in Rome besides the expense of freight.”

“The Dead Christ” – was sculpted in Carrara marble by the Irish sculptor John Hogan in 1854. Bishop John Thomas Mullock, on one of his visits to Rome, purchased the statue and had it placed beneath the table of the High Altar on March 9, 1855.

Since it was installed in the Basilica it has twice been moved to new locations, first in 1903 when the Sanctuary was expanded and again in the early 1970’s when it was moved to its present position.

The statue is Hogan’s masterpiece. One observer of the statue wrote:

“It is an awesome and beautiful work of art, full of dignity, and conveying a sense of the serenity which follows the acceptance of God’s will and the peace which is a prelude to the glory of the Resurrection.”

Hogan created two other versions of the statue; the first version (1829) is located in St. Therese’s Church, Dublin, Ireland, the second (1833) in St. Finbarr’s (South) Church, Cork, Ireland. Other works by Hogan include the Sleeping Shepherd and The Drunken Faun. Hogan assured his international reputation in 1829 with The Dead Christ; thereafter, his creations were snapped up by Irish bishops visiting his Rome studio.

Hogan was recognized by by his fellow artist, he  was pronounced by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen as “the best sculptor I leave after me in Rome.”

Hogan was a great supporter of the Irish movement for independence and went on to create a marble statue of Daniel O Connell, an important figure in the movement. The statue stands today at City Hall Dublin, the same spot where O’Connell gave his first speech against the Act of Union in 1800.

Hogan died at his home in Dublin, in 1858.
Recommended Archival Collection: Edward Morris Diaries, Archives of the Roman Catholic  Archdiocese of St. John’s, NL.

Recommended ReadingA full account of Hogan’s life and works, with a catalogue raisonée and bibliography, is given by John Turpin in John Hogan: Irish Neoclassical Sculptor in Rome (Irish Academic Press, 1982).

Recommedned Tour: Visit the  Basilica Cathedral in St. John’s  and enjoy the large collection of art work that adorns the building. The Basilica Cathedral is home to art created by internationally celebrated artists like John Hogan, Edward Carew, Louis Koch, and Gerry Squires.  If you were visting another city you would likely visit the Cathedrals and museums, why not do it in your own city!

 

The harbour is quiet, no slides for the children.

Archival Moment

March 6, 1907

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. B 4 - 148. James Vey Collection

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. B 4 – 148. James Vey Collection

The first week in March month in St. John’s traditionally saw the population grow by the hundreds as the “men from the bay” began to arrive in the city hoping for a berth on the sealing vessels going out to prosecute fishery.

The city, especially the waterfront, would be busy with activity. Many of the men would be looking for lodgings as they awaited news of a berth on one of the vessels, some consumed a little too much and  there were the inevitable rows between the ‘bay men’ and ‘the townies’ looking for the same work.

The Gambo Slide

It was not only St. John’s that was a hub of activity the other hub was the town a Gambo. In the first week of March, 1907 the St. John’s newspaper, The Daily News reported:

“Last night there were 100 men at Gambo, who had walked from Wesleyville and vicinity, to take the train. About 200 more are expected there, this morning, which will be the last coming from that section.”

The Gambo train station was the terminus for just about all of the sealers who would walk the trek from Wesleyville to the train station in Gambo, “an unpleasant tramp” that took from 24 – 32 hours.

However, there would be much excitement in Gambo, especially among the children. The children would be waiting for the Gambo slide.

The Gambo slide was a small lightweight sled that was constructed by the men of Wesleyville and area, that they used to pull their sealing gear and clothes.  As the men of Wesleyville, now exhausted from walking, approached Gambo, the children of the town would be on the outskirts to help them pull their slide for the last few miles.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. Start of the Slide Race. A11-19. Elsie Holloway Studio, St. John's.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. Start of the Slide Race. A11-19. Elsie Holloway Studio, St. John’s.

The children knew once they pulled the “Gambo slide” to the train station, the sealers would board the train for St. John’s and the slides would be theirs!

It was not only the men from Wesleyville that were walking into Gambo to catch the train, the Daily News reported on March 6, 1907:

“Eight hundred men will leave Greenspond, Newtown, Pools Island and neighboring places, this morning and will walk over the ice to Gambo, and come into St. John’s by train.”

Walking in the unpredictable weather especially in March month,  the slides not only served to lighten the loads of what the fishermen had to carry, if the weather “turned on them”, they could always burn the slides and use the  wood as a heat source.

One story goes that upon arrival in Gambo  a small group of young men  from Greenspond, Bonavista  Bay had hours to wait for the train.

“So to keep the fire going we broke up our slides which we had used to drag our suitcases or clothes bags on. This kept the fire going for two or three hours … I was some glad when the train finally came, and, I had never been on a train before in my life.”

With the loss of markets for seal products, the hustle and bustle that came with the preparations for outfitting the boats and signing on the crews in St. John’s is no more.

The first week of March on the St. John’s waterfront is now quiet.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives read the journal of Dr. William Waddell (MG 1006.1). The journal documents a typical sealing voyage including a description of the vessel and role of the crew.

Recommended Reading: The Last of the Ice Hunters: An Oral History of the Newfoundland Seal Hunt  edited by Shannon Ryan, Flanker Press,St. John’s, NL.

Recommended Reading: Perished: The 1914 Newfoundland Sealing Disaster  by Jenny Higgins.  Boulder Publications, Portugal Cove Conception Bay, NL.