Tag Archives: Archbishop Roche

Denomination division of the civil service


AUGUST 28, 1917

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division: C 1-207; House of Assembly in Session. Colonial Building, Military Road, St. John’s. Edward P. Morris, Prime Minister 1909-1917

On  28 August 1917 Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche, the Catholic bishop of St. John’s wrote Prime Minister Edward Morris of Newfoundland with some concerns that he had concerning the denominational division of the civil service” in the country.

Archbishop Roche noted in his letter that he was not happy with the decision reached by Government with respect to the appointment of an Inspector General of Police. It appears that a Catholic had held the position (John J. Sullivan) but it had been decided to give the position to a Protestant. (Charles H. Hutchings).  The Archbishop wrote “I cannot but regard it as the passing out of Catholic hands an important position in point of honour, influence, and emolument.”

Church officials from all denominations staunchly defended positions in the Newfoundland civil service for their flock.  They were following an entrenched principle of “denominational representation in government and the civil service” established as early as 1865. Also known as the principle of “denominational compromise”   it was  generally accepted that positions in the public service, from the Supreme Court bench to ferry men  should be allocated in such a way that each denomination received a proportionate share of both jobs and the salary budget.

The principle essentially meant that all patronage and government jobs should be distributed upon a perfectly fair denominational basis with the amount of patronage given to each denomination representing their share of the population.  Essentially 1/3 of the jobs went to The Roman Catholics, 1/3 to the Anglicans and 1/3 to the Methodists.


The leaders of all of the churches each year scrutinized what were referred to as the “civil lists” to insure that their denominations were well represented.  These “civil lists” identified officials in all departments of government giving the salary and religious denomination of each.

The analysis of the” civil lists” by church leaders was quite detailed. In his letter of 28 August, Archbishop Roche also observed “The salary of the superintendent of the Hospital (Protestant) is more than the Superintendent of the Lunatic Asylum (Catholic); the salary of the Inspector General (Protestant) is more than the Superintendent of the Penitentiary (Catholic).

The principle of “denominational compromise”  was well entrenched until 1934 when  it came under review by the Commission of Government (1934-1949) they dropped old political and religious criteria in the hiring and promotion of civil servants making merit the sole basis for promotion. (It is interesting to note that when the commission of government was established in 1934, the positions for the three Newfoundlanders were allocated on a denominational basis: Alderdice (Anglican), Howley (RC) and Puddester (UC).

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Provincial Archives Division at The Rooms see GN 2.41 This series consists of the names, occupations, dates of appointments, terms of office and religious denominations of civil servants of St. John’s and Newfoundland.

Newfoundland and Cod Liver Oil

Archival Moment

September 20, 1943

Gerald S. Doyle was a major distributor of Cod Liver Oil in Newfoundland

During the final months and days of WWII governments throughout the world began to  realize that something would have to be done for the health of the children in war torn Europe.

The Pope’s delegate to Canada and Newfoundland  was aware that Newfoundland had a product with considerable medicinal value  that should be considered.

On 20 September 1943, church officials in Newfoundland were notified by the  Vatican that Rome:

“plans to secure a considerable quantity of cod-liver oil to be kept at its disposal so it can be distributed at the end of the war in those regions where the health conditions of poor children demand it.”

The letter went on the ask the local bishop in St. John’s   to

 “obtain information, if several thousand pounds of it  (cod liver oil) could be bought now  in Canada and Newfoundland.”

In Newfoundland, local businessman P.J. Lewis  was charged by Archbishop Roche of St. John’s with  finding the cod liver oil and looking at how it could be transported to the children in Europe.

Lewis had proven to be equal to the task that was assigned to him. He had managed to find six tons of cod liver oil that they were  “able to ship abroad that year, for the children of Europe.”

During World War II, the British Ministry of Food, concerned about the effect of a tightened food supply on health, provided free cod-liver oil for pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five, and adults over forty.The British government, believing that the oil had produced the healthiest children England had ever seen, despite the bombings and the rationing, continued the program until 1971.

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. It has been shown to prevent rickets. Because cod liver oil is more easily absorbed than other oils, it was originally  widely used as a nutrient and tonic.

Recommended Archival Collection:    Search the online database for descriptions of our archival records and to view thousands of digital photographs.  In the search bar type; Cod liver oil  –https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Video:   Information Video from the British Ministry of Information WWII   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4PgMIPQb7U

Recommended Song: Great Big Sea on their album The Hard and the Easyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyocPX4k4y8