Tag Archives: Military Road

The danger of walking on the streets of St. John’s


January 15, 1850

Photo Credit: the Rooms Provincial Archives: A 35-61; Snow Banks on Military Road, Colonial Building in Background

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 35-61; Snow Banks on Military Road, Colonial Building in Background.  [ca 1910]

The complaints of the residents of St. John’s about snow clearing and allowing pedestrian’s safe passage on the streets are not new.  As early as 1850 the town now city of St. John’s has been trying to negotiate the delicate balance between walkers and drivers.

An Editorial in the Morning Post and Shipping Gazette a St. John’s newspaper on January 15, 1850 speaks about the difficulty of getting about the town.  The editorial reads:

“Solely from a desire to preserve the well-being of all classes in the community, we call the attention of the Police to the extreme carelessness manifested by the drivers of vehicles of almost every kind, in neglecting to provide them with a sufficiency of bells to give the foot passenger timely notice to move out of their way.

No person in St. John’s need be reminded of the difficulty, and often danger, of perambulating the streets of this town during the winter months ….

The Police would do well to order that all vehicles, both sleighs and slides, whether drawn by horses or dogs, shall be amply provided with bells  to give timely notice of their approach; an order which, we hope will not  only be given, but strictly attended to and rigidly enforced.”

Pedestrians, if you are preambulating the streets,  wear light or reflective clothing.  These drivers need to see you!

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives Division read the old newspaper accounts that give great insight into the events of the past.  http://www.therooms.ca/archives/

Recommended Web Site: City of St. John’s Snow Clearing: http://www.stjohns.ca/living-st-johns/streets-traffic-and-parking/snow-clearing

Recommended to Read: Rain, Drizzle and Fog: Newfoundland Weather by Sheilah Roberts. Boulder Publications,  2014.    Newfoundlanders love to talk about the weather. And why wouldn’t they? The province is known for its great gales, fierce blizzards, destructive glitter storms, blizzards, and hurricanes. Sheilah Roberts delves into the archives, to find stories of Newfoundland weather. Reports from 400 years of Newfoundland and Labrador weather are interspersed with traditional weather lore, snippets of science, and dozens of fascinating photos. With a foreword by CBC’s Newfoundland and Labrador weather expert, Ryan Snodden.


What about Bannerman Park?


Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: E 20-25; Crowds in Bannerman Park long before the Annual Folk Festival.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: E 20-25; Crowds in Bannerman Park long before the Annual Folk Festival.

Engaging Evenings at the Rooms

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 7pm


From a tent city after The Great Fire to the Colonial Building Riot; from courting lovers to a game of curling, Bannerman Park is a cherished landmark immersed in history. Join The Rooms archivist Larry Dohey, for a look at the history of Bannerman Park and hear stories that will sure to make you smile. Perhaps you have a story to share.

Bannerman Park in St. John’s has long been a cherished city landmark, a landmark that has over the years seen a variety of improvements to help modernize the park while staying true to its original Victorian character. The Bannerman Park Foundation are now engaged in the revitalization of the park with calls for residents to support the many projects that the foundation are undertaking.

Wind back the clock.

Just as in 2013 there is a call for the revitalization of Bannerman Park, so it was in 1887.  It was in April 1887 that some residents of the city began to groan that:

“summer is coming again and nothing has been done to lay out or improve the vacant space.”

The residents of St. John’s complained that the enemies of the Park were the wild goats and foxes that have made the Park their refuge and the two legged enemies of the Park the residents of Flavin Street who have been taking  the pickets from the fence  turning it into “handy fuel.”  In short the people of Flavin Street were using the fence that surrounded Bannerman Park for fire wood!!

The residents of the  St John’s were determined. They argued that every other city in the world had a substantial park and that they too should have a Park to revel in.

Critics of putting money into Bannerman Park in 1887 argued:

 “nature has been so kind to us around St. John’s that the whole countryside is one extended Park which spreads out like the sparking tale of a demonstrative peacock when summer comes and the sun shines.”

The supporters of the Bannerman Park countered:

“We believe that art is nature to advantage dressed, and we want so rural retreat, within easy access of the town, where the tired tramp may repose his exhausted limbs when the sun goes down and dream of that happy Elysium where insects bite not, nor mosquitoes sting, but where the wick’ud cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.” Yes, we want a Park! “Other things being equal,” we want the Park, the one and only park, the Bannerman Park.”

As with all revitalization projects, funding such a project, have always been a concern.

In 2013 the Bannerman Foundation are actively courting private and corporate dollars and partnering with the city. In 1887 the suggestion was “that legislators put another cent or two per bushel on potatoes and give us the Park at once.”

In 1887 supporters of the Park said :

“Not much is required. A little seeding and a little draining.”   They dreamt that in time you would find in Bannerman Park  “cool shade trees and babbling brooks, of grottos and labyrinths, (fancy a labyrinth in Bannerman Park!) of groove’s and blarney. Nay, even the strawberries and cream, also, especially cream.”

One hundred and twenty six years later supporters of the Park dream of:

“ a refrigerated skating trail, a new pavilion, a splash pad, an upgraded playground, the Garden of Memories, and a new pool house, upgraded pathways, new trees and flower beds, and new Victorian styled fixtures such as benches and lamps.!!

Located on the north side of Military Road next to Government House and the Colonial Building, Bannerman Park takes its name for Governor Alexander Bannerman, who in 1864, donated Governor’s lands in the vicinity of Government House for a public park for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of St. John’s.

It was shortly after the land was presented as a gift that residents of St. John’s that  “ the ‘learned doctor’  Dr.  John Joseph Dearin, and his friends”  began to plant trees in the park. Many unfortunately “went to moult” the number one enemy of the park from its inception until the 1890’s were the goats that roamed the town.

It was after the appeal for residents for a more formal park in April 1887 that city officials began to seriously consider what to do with the land that had been left by Governor Bannerman.   In 1891, the City of St. John’s funded the design and development of the Park as a formal Victorian Garden.

The rest is history evolving.

Recommended Reading: Stories About Bannerman  Park: http://www.bannermanpark.ca/stories/

Recommended Action:  Support the Garden of Memories in Bannerman Park:  People who enjoy the park can contribute to the park‘s revitalization through by sponsoring various fixtures, flower gardens, and commemorative granite stones, which will be used for the pathways in the Garden. For more information: http://www.bannermanpark.ca/the-garden-of-memories-open-to-the-public/


Mercy Sisters Open Their First School in the New World


May 1, 1843

Mercy Convent, Military Road, St. John's, NL.

The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy was founded in Dublin, Ireland by Catherine McAuley on December 12, 1831.

At the request of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming of St. John’s, Newfoundland three Irish women Frances Creedon, Ursula Frayne, and Rose Lynch began their Atlantic crossing on the Sir Walter Scott to begin working as missionaries in Newfoundland.

They arrived in St. John’s on June 3, 1842. With no convent ready they  took accommodations at Belvedere, Bishop Fleming’s residence.  (The street is now known as Margaret’s Place – off Newtown Road. Belvedere is the buidling  nearest to the MCP Building that was  the old  Belvedere Orphanage.)

During the first eleven months of the new mission, the Sisters of Mercy visited the sick and the poor in their homes. On December 12, 1842, the Sisters moved from their temporary home to their new convent on Military Road. This was the first Mercy Convent in the New World.

On May 1, 1843, Our Lady of Mercy School, Military Road, was formally opened. From this nucleus, other convents were opened throughout the province.

Through the years the Sisters of Mercy were engaged primarily in the teaching and nursing professions. In recent years their main focus has been in Pastoral Ministries in various localities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and in Peru.

Recommended Reading: “Weavers of the Tapestry”, Kathrine Bellamy’s, RSM -St. John’s, NL.  Flanker Press Limited   2006

 Recommended Web Site: http://www.sistersofmercynf.org/