Tag Archives: animals

No place for horned cattle on Water Street

Archival Moment

December, 1914

Credit: The Rooms NA 1558; Note the "Cow catcher" on the frount of the Street Car. Water Street West, St. John's

Credit: The Rooms NA 1558; Note the “Cow catcher” on the frount of the Street Car. Water Street West, St. John’s. Click on the photo to enlarge.

There was a time in the City of St. John’s when it was not unusual to see cows, sheep and pigs wandering the streets. Cows in fact had become such a nuisance that the street cars in St. John’s were equipped with “cow catchers.”

In December 1914 city officials declared that they had enough and decided to try and take control.

In the local media in December 1914 the Municipal Council of St. John’s posted a notice reminding citizens especially farmers that there were regulations that had been on the books since 1903 and that they must be abided. In May 1903 the Municipal Council published in the Royal Gazette regulations that were very specific:

“Horned cattle, sheep or swine shall not be driven through Water Street at any time or under any circumstances except for the purpose of crossing said street, when going too or coming from a waterside premise then the shortest possible distance shall be taken.”

In December 1914 the Municipal Council agreed that the regulation might be too harsh.

“the regulation …. bear harshly upon certain citizens and especially those engaged in procuring the meat supply of the city, thereby causing unnecessary loss, expense and inconvenience to them in their trade and business and a less stringent measure will fully protect the rights and ensure the safety and convenience of all citizens in this respect.”

Credit: The Rooms Archives, VA 14 27.

Credit: The Rooms Archives, VA 14 27. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

The city decided to compromise, no accommodation would be made for sheep and pigs, there was no place for them on Water Street, but the Council decided they would make accommodation for horned cattle.

The primary concern was the “safety and convenience of all citizens” given that Water Street was the commercial heart of the city; it was decided to devise a schedule when cattle could be herded and driven down Water Street. Council proclaimed:

“Horned cattle shall not be driven through the streets of St. John’s in numbers or herds of more than 10, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., from the first day of April until the first day of October, in any year, and from the first day of October until the first day of April, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

The new regulations also demanded when driving herds of 6 to 20 cattle, four competent drovers were required. When driving one single horned cattle the owner or one competent drover had to be present.

As an incentive the Municipal Notice stated if the regulations were not observed a penalty of $25.00 for each offence would be imposed by a Magistrate if convicted.

Recommended Reading: Cows don’t know it’s Sunday: Agricultural life in St. John’s; by Murray, Hilda Chaulk. ISER  Books;    2002

Lost Word:   Drover: The person responsible for moving livestock over long distances by walking them “on the hoof”.

Horses, turned into the roads and woods to die of frost and starvation”

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: NA19658: Horses grazing ina field

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: NA19658: Horses grazing ina field

Archival Moment

November 29,1893

In November 1893 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in the local St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram published an article “enlisting the services of supporters throughout the colony.”

The article read:  “The SPCA desires to enlist the services of its supporters throughout the colony in detecting and punishing cruelty, and, at this season, the practice of exposing old horses and other animals.”   The article stated:  “Worn out horses are often turned into the roads and woods to die of frost and starvation.”

The Executive of the SPCA were keen to stop this cruel practice and insisted that “the crime should be effectually stamped out.”

The SPCA which was established in Newfoundland in November 1888 was originally formed to eradicate this practice and other cruel hardships that the horses had to endure such pulling excessively heavy loads.

The Executive of the SPCA wrote to the readers of the Evening Telegram that “Without the watchful assistance of the public, the efforts of our agents must be of little effect.”

Since their founding in 1888 the SPCA had encouraged laws “wide enough to cover all cases that may arise, and the magistrates never fall in their duty when such cases come before them.”   They proposed however that “While it is the duty of all Justices of the Peace to execute this law upon offenders, it is no less the duty of every citizen to prosecute cases coming to notice.”

In 1893 it was the hope that  “branches of our Society (should be) formed in every outport where a Justice is within reach.”

To assist with establishing societies  outside of St. John’s  “Either Mr. Greene, Q.C. (Hon. Treasurer) or Mr. Johnson, Q.C. (Hon. Secretary)  of the St. John’s Society  will be ready  at all times to assist in the formation of branch Societies an in instructing as to the method of prosecuting offenders.”

Recommended Archival Collection:  At The Rooms Provincial Archives: MG 593 is the SPCA Collection 1912 -1927. It consists of correspondence; complaint books, and investigation reports into complaints of cruelty.

Recommended Song: Tickle Cove Pond. Allan Doyle (Great Big Sea).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SNScBpa4lc

Recommended Web Site:  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – Please support the SPCA on line auction:  http://spcastjohns.org/ Please click on the advertisement line above.

The prevention of cruelty to animals

Archival Moment

March 10, 1879

We Love Animals

We Love Animals

On March 10, 1879 the St. John’s newspaper “The Temperance Journal” reported on the early development of a relatively new movement advocating for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

The editor of the local paper James Murray wrote:

“We observe that our thoughtful humanitarian Judge (Daniel W.) Prowse has projected an amended Act for the prevention of cruelty to animals.”

The Editor, with tongue firmly planted in his cheek continued:

Now regarding the necessity of such an act we agree, but what about the necessity of an Act for the prevention of cruelty by animals. Anyone who has witnessed the tender cabbage sprout, that has been watered and watched, and saved alike from the early frost, and the early grub, only to be devoured by the ruthless goat, and a goat that doesn’t belong to you, at that, will understand us.”

Prowse and others did press on and in his lifetime he saw the establishment of the Newfoundland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)  in 1888.

The first work of this newly formed Society was mostly amongst horses, and the hardship they endured from pulling heavy loads up steep hills from the harbor.

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives: MG 593: 1912 -1927 consists of correspondence; complaint books, and investigation reports.

Recommended Website: For more information on the  SPCA  go to www.spcastjohns.org