Tag Archives: Newfoundland

World War II came home to Newfoundland.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

October 14, 1942

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: C 2-48; Remember the SS Caribou and Her Gallant Crew

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: C 2-48; Remember the SS Caribou and Her Gallant Crew

In the early morning hours of October 14, 1942 a lone German torpedo from the German submarine U69 hit the  SS Caribou,  the Sydney to Port aux Basques ferry on  route to Newfoundland, under Captain Benjamin Tavernor.  World War II came home to Newfoundland.

Immediately following the hit chaos ensued as passengers, thrown from their bunks by the explosion rushed topside to the lifeboat stations.

Of the 237 people aboard the Caribou when she left North Sydney, 136 had perished. Fifty-seven were military personnel and 49 were civilians. Of the 46-man crew, mostly Newfoundlanders, only 15 remained. Five families suffered particularly heavy losses: the Tappers (5 dead), the Toppers (4), the Allens (3), the Tavernors (the captain and his two sons), and the Skinners (3). The local press reported:

 “Many Families [were] Wiped Out.”

News of the sinking sparked much outrage as victims,  friends and families, and the populace at large, condemned the Nazis for targeting a passenger ferry. An editorialist with The Royalist newspaper in St. John’s wrote that the sinking:

“was such a useless crime from the point of view of warfare. It will have no effect upon the course of the war except to steel our resolve that the Nazi blot on humanity must be eliminated from our world.”

The Channel/Port aux Basques area was the worst hit as many crew members of the Caribou were local men. A funeral on October 18 for six victims was attended by hundreds of mourners, and a procession that followed the bodies to the grave sites reportedly measured two kilometres long.

Recommended Archival Collection:  Search the Rooms Archives on line:  https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

At The Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to read  VA  40- 16:  A page from The Evening Telegram, St. John’s, NL. with several newspaper articles about the sinking of the SS Caribou, including names of those lost ; death of assistant matron, Agnes Wilkie, General Hospital.

Recommended Reading: Thornhill, H. It Happened in October : The Tragic Sinking of the S.S. Caribou. Newfoundland: H. Thornhill, 1945.

Recommended Song:  The Caribou; Lyrics can be found at: http://www.mun.ca/folklore/leach/songs/NFLD1/17A-05.htm

May snow has healing powers

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

May Snow

Where is the May Snow?

“May Snow”  is something that  none of us are keen to welcome but  it is  a phenomena that we have all known.

William Shakespeare, like the rest of us was not keen  on  ‘May Snow”  in  ‘Love’s Labour Lost’, he wrote:

 

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows. (1.1.105)”

But if we get snow we might as well make the best out of it.

In this province our ancestors  and government  insisted “May Snow” should be bottled and used as a remedy to cure sore eyes.

A brochure printed by the government of Newfoundland in 1955, titled “Historic Newfoundland  and Labrador” stated:

Many old people testify to the efficiency of this strange cure.

The “Dictionary of Newfoundland English” observed:

“Snow from the first snowfall in May would be collected because it was supposed to have healing powers. It would be used to cure sore eyes. It was called May water.”

J. K. Crellin, in his book “Home Medicine: The Newfoundland Experience” offers a suggestion for those unhappy with their complexion. Crellin in his research discovered that one’s complexion would be improved by soaking one’s face in the first snow in May month.

Snow is associated with purity and innocence as in the expression  “as pure as the driven snow.”

Another expression that is deeply rooted in the folklore of many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador is the expression

“A snowfall in May, will take freckles away.”

It was not uncommon for the young Irish girls to bathe their faces in May snow water with the wish and the prayer that their freckles would disappear. The expression is countered by another wonderful old Irish saying

” A face without freckles is like a night without stars”

Let us embrace our weather, take it as it comes. Let’s bottle this May snow. It truly is good for sore eyes!!

Recommended Website:  Environment Canada:  http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/city/pages/nl-24_metric_e.html

 

Basilica of St. John the Baptist declared a National Historic Site.

Archival Moment

August 10, 1984

Basilica of St. John the Baptist, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 1841

The Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s is the symbol of Roman Catholicism in Newfoundland. The structure is a testament to the faith and determination of the Irish-Catholic population of the province.

The project began under the leadership of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, who went through great pains to secure a grant of land to build the cathedral. After making five trips to England, Fleming acquired nine acres of land on which to build the church and related buildings. Work commenced with the fencing of the land in 1838, and on the May 21, 1841 the cornerstone was laid.

Sixteen years elapsed from the time excavation work began in 1839 until the cathedral was consecrated in 1855.

On August 10, 1984 the Basilica was designated a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Recommended Archival Collection: Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s. http://rcsj.org/archives-research

Recommended Museum: The Basilica Cathedral Museum and Library has one of the largest collections of church related artifacts in the country and is home to one of the oldest collections of books in the province.  Tours are available during the summer season.

Recommended Reading: Fire Upon the Earth, the Life and Times of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, O.S.F. by J.B. Darcy, Creative Publishers, St. John’s, 2003.

Recommended Website:  From Cornerstone to Consecration:  http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/basilique-basilica/en/index.html

List of National Historic Sites in Newfoundland and Labrador: http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/placestogo/nationalhistoricsites

 

 

 

The first letter from North America

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

August 3, 1527

The first letter from North America

Between 1857 and 1949 Newfoundland issued her own stamps. In all more than 300 different stamps were printed,.

Between 1857 and 1949 Newfoundland issued her own stamps. In all more than 300 different stamps were printed,.

It was at St. John’s, Newfoundland on 3 August 1527 that the first known letter was sent from North America. While in St. John’s, John Rut had written a letter to King Henry VIII on his findings and his planned voyage. The letter in part reads as follows:

Pleasing your Honourable Grace to heare of your servant John Rut with all his company here in good health thanks be to God.

The conclusion of the letter reads:

 “…the third day of August we entered into a good harbour called St. John and there we found Eleuen Saile of Normans and one Brittaine and two Portugal barks all a fishing and so we are ready to depart towards Cap de Bras that is 25 leagues ….  In the Haven of St. John the third day of August written in hast 1527, by your servant John Rut to his uttermost of his power.”

John Rut  was chosen by Henry VIII to command an expedition to America in  1527. With the ships Mary Guildford and the Samson, his goal was to find a passage to Asia around or through North America and to engage in trade when he had done so.

Henry VIII may have been a bit distracted when he got the letter, he was in the process of quietly trying to annul the marriage to his first wife  Catherine of Aragon.

Recommended Activity: Letters are fascinating and are the foundation of many family and community histories.  Take some time to look at some of the old letters that might be found in your home.  The ‘art” of writing a letter is quickly disappearing as we move to e mail and other social media as the main way to communicate.  Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Reading: Biography of John Rut:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=247&terms=de

 

A Newfoundland and Labrador geographical romance

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

February 14, 1918

Newfoundland and Labrador a place of romance.

Newfoundland and Labrador a place of romance.

This is geographical romance that will take you to the many nooks and crannies, of Newfoundland and Labrador.  This is a poem for Valentine’s Day!

Each of the bolded words in this poem is  a place name in Newfoundland and Labrador. Please note that some of the place names have changed and or have been resettled and may no longer be on the official provincial map.  mail.  Take some time with the provincial map and travel with Annie Opsquotch about this province to try and find her true love!!

 A Newfoundland and Labrador  Geographical Romance

Annie Opsquotch just could not make up her mind. She was smitten by two men, Joe Batt  and Sam Hitches.  Little did she know that there was another who was in love with her determined to keep her to himself! But her mind was made up, she was determined to find her true love!

Now Annie Opsquotch got a mash,

But wasn’t very sure,

If she loved Old Sam Hitches less

Or Young Joe Batt the Moore

Bad Neighbour when he heard it,

In his Heart’s Ease felt alarm,

And sent Joe Batt to Burying Place;

Gave Sam a Bloody Arm.

Then Annie’s scornful Ha, Ha,

Was Tentamount to snubs,

When Mose Ambrose heard of her Exploit

He felt like Jack O’Clubs

 

Her Beau Bois, she then went in quest,

And traveled day and Knight,

And swore she wouldn’t Stepaside

Till she found her Heart’s Delight.

She took a Gin and Brandy,

Her Bareneed to appease,

She took a stock of Horse Chops,                           

Like wise some Bread and Cheese.                         

She started on Blue Pinions,

With the swiftness of a Hare,

She went to sleep with Heart’s Content,

But woke up in Despair.

Thru Cat’s Cove, Dogs Cove, Hogs Nose,

Thru Bear’s Cove, Lion’s Den,

Past Beaver, Seal and Badger

And Duck and Deer and Clam;

Thru Fox and Goose and Wolf Bay

Rat, Weasel, Turtle, Swan,

Thru, Salmon, Swile and Puffin,

And rested her at Lawn.

Thru Lobster, Loon and Clown Cove                                

With haste she did Pushthrough,

Thru Gouffe, Greeps and Gaggles                                    

Knife Cove and Lance au Lou;                              

Cupid’s message via Pacquet

Put an end to her alarms,

At last she got her Heart’s Desire,

Snug, Safe in Joe Batt’s Arms.

The poem  was written by Bald Nap. Bald Nap  described as an outport on Bay d’Espoir located in the Trinity District.  The poem makes reference to approximately sixty five place names.

Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives explore the Nomenclature Board fonds , Description number GN 157. This collection consists of of incoming correspondence to the secretary, Nomenclature Board (1920-1943; 1950),including petitions about proposed community name changes.

Interactive Version:  Archival Moments.ca  has teamed up
with CBC Radio to allow you to  travel throughout Newfoundland with a
young woman as she searches for the man that she loves. Happy Valentine’s Day.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/a-newfoundland-geographical-romance-1.1306384

Where in the province are these places located?  WE have found most – but a few  (?)  we have not found. Perhaps you can help.

The Annieopsquotch Mountains are located in the southwestern interior of the island of Newfoundland, east of Bay St. George. Its name is Mi’kmaq and literally translated means ‘terrible rocks.’

Sam Hitches: A small fishing station on Long Island between Despair and Hermitage. Distance from Fortune Bay is nine miles, from Gaultois by boat is seven miles.

Joe Batt: A fishing settlement on north east side of Fogo Island. Distance from Fogo is five miles.

Moore’s Cove, near Shoal Tickle. Shoal Tickle was the smallest of the four communities that were settled outside the Town of Fogo.

“The Bad Neighbour” is about three quarters of a mile off Burgeo.

Heart’s Ease is primarily a shortened name for Heart’s Ease Beach (near Gooseberry Cove, Trinity Bay). The community ceased existence in the 1920s.

Indian Burying Place, Notre Dame Bay is located approximately halfway between Nippers Harbour to the south, and Shoe Cove to the north. It can be reached by boat, walking overland, or by skidoo in the winter from Snook’s Arm.

Bloddy’s Arm: A salmon river, in the Fogo division of the District of Twillingate and Fogo.

Ha Ha: Newfoundland has more than a few hahas, including Ha Ha Bay, Ha Ha Mountain, and The Ha Ha.

Mose Ambrose: Located along Route 363, Mose Ambrose, Harbour Breton area, was originally called Mon Jambe and later became known as Mozambrose. Like most communities along the south coast, Mose Ambrose was first established as fishing rooms for ventures from England.

Exploit’s River: One of the most important inlets in Newfoundland. Distance from Twillingate by boat is 24 miles.

Jack O’ Clubs is now known as Aguathuna, located in the Stephenville Western Region.

The community of Beau Bois on the Burin Peninsula, only a 10-minute drive from Marystown.

Knight’s Cove is a village located southwest of Bonavista and west of Catalina.

Stepaside is located on the south coast of Newfoundland (on the Placentia Bay side of Burin Peninsula).

Heart’s Delight-Islington is a town on the south side of Trinity Bay.

Bear Cove can mean a number of places; there were at least eight in the province.

Lion’s Den: Fogo Island.

Beaver Cove changed its name to Beaverton in 1968.

Badger is a town in north-central on the Exploits River. It supplied pulp and paper for the mills in Grand Falls-Windsor for many years, and was famous for its large spring log drives.

Black Duck Cove, near Ireland’s Eye, Trinity Bay.

Deer: as in Deer Lake, western Newfoundland.

Clam Bank Cove, now known as Lourdes.

Fox Harbour, Placentia Bay.

Goose Bay, Bonavista Bay or Labrador.

Lower Wolf Cove, now Springdale.

Rat (Rattling Brook), now Heatherton.

Weasel Island: (Mi’kmaq burial site) in Hermitage District.

Turtle: ?

Swan: Swan Island, Bay of Exploits.

Salmon Cove, now called Avondale.

Swile Rock, Trinity Bay.

Puffin: ?

Lawn, Burin Peninsula.

Lobster Harbour, NDB, now Port Anson.

Loons Cove, now called Lewins Cove.

Gin Cove, north side of Smith’s Sound, Trinity Bay

Brandy: ?

Bareneed is located east of Bay Roberts, on the west side of Conception Bay.

Horse Chops is a small island off the coast of Labrador, near the mouth of Sandwich Bay or the cape near the entrance of Engliah Harbour, Trinity Bay.

Bread and Cheese, located south of Bay Bulls.

Blue Pinions: A small fishing settlement on west side of Fortune Bay, district of Fortune Bay. Distance from Bellorem is five miles by road, near St. Jacques.

Hare (Hare Bay) is a natural bay located on the eastern side of the Northern Peninsula.

Heart’s Content, a community nestled along the sea on the Baccalieu Trail.

Despair (Bay d’Espoir). It’s sometimes claimed that the name Bay Despair represents an English corruption of the French.

Cat’s Cove, on the Burin Peninsula.

Dog Cove, on St. Brendan’s Island.

Hog’s Nose: Trinity Harbour, Trinity Bay.

Clown Cove, near Carbonear.

Pushthrough: A resettled fishing community located on Newfoundland’s south coast, about 20 kilometres northwest of Hermitage.

Gouffe: ?

Greeps: ?

Gaggles: a place to which logs are hauled, preparatory to transportation by water or rail.

Knife Cove, Knife Bay (or Baie de Couteau, or Knife Cove) is a natural bay or cove. Cornelius Island is nearby.

L’Anse-au-Loup is located between Forteau and L’Anse-au-Diable.

Cupids: the oldest English colony in Canada and the second oldest English in North America! A place for lovers!

Pacquet (“hideaway” in French) is located in White Bay, on the Baie Verte Peninsula.

Heart’s Desire, south side of Trinity Bay.

Snug Harbour, approximately 30 kilometres northeast of Charlottetown.

Safe Harbour is a resettled fishing community located around a well-sheltered harbour on the north side of Bonavista Bay.

Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo Island.

Bald Nap is an outport on Bay d’Espoir, located in the Trinity District.

 

“Tears stood on the cheeks of men …”

Archival Moments

April 2, 2014

Photo Credit: the rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50.  Bodies of the frozen sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

Photo Credit: the rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50. Bodies of the frozen sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

On April 2, 1914 news about the disaster on the icefields that would claim the lives of 78 men of the sealing vessel the S.S. Newfoundland began t reach St. John’s. The St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram reported:

“The waiting rooms of the Postal Telegram Offices were thronged with anxious mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, who made heart rendering entreaties of the clerks for the lists of the dead.

At 9:30 p.m. the clerk of the Postal Telegraphs amid a breathless silence posted up another message that was forwarded on from the Fogo Station.  After a short silence, the following was read:

On Board the Bellaventure are fifty eight dead and thirty five survivors, on board the Florizel, five dead. On board the Stephano, one dead and two survivors.

Tears stood on the cheeks of men who had often trod the frozen pans and knew well the nature of the experience of a night on the ice, particularly during such as blizzard as we had on Tuesday. Woman gave expression to their grief by weeping and could only with great difficulty be consoled at all.

Shortly after the forgoing message was read it was reported that the steamers Bellaventure, Stephano and Florizel were passing Cape St. Francis and would arrive here (St. John’s) about midnight. Hundreds wended their way to the waterfront, regardless of the weather conditions and for several hours patiently waited for the coming of the ships.”

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 Reading:  PERISHED  by Jenny Higgins (2014)  offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  A first for the Newfoundland and Labrador publishing industry, as readers turn the pages of Perished they’ll find maps, log book entries, telegrams, a sealer’s ticket for the SS Newfoundland, and more that can be pulled out and examined.  These are the primary source materials that ignite the imagination of history buffs and students alike and are among more than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents that illustrate this amazing book. (NEW PUBLICATION)

Recommended Exhibit:  Death on the Front:  The Sealing Disaster 1914.  March 26 – November 16 – Level 3 Museum Alcove. This small display features artifacts from the Rooms Provincial Museum and archival imagery from The Rooms Provincial Archives connected to these tragedies. One of the artifacts featured is a  flag that was once flown on the Southern Cross. The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, using animation, survivor testimony and archival footage will be running as part of the Death at the Front exhibition. 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/

“Man frozen fast in a floating ice cake”

Archival Moment

March 31, 1914

Some of the men who signed up never came home .

Some of the men who signed up never came home .

This is the weekend that we remember those that died in the sealing disasters of 1914. It was on this weekend (March 31 – April 2, 1914) that 77 men froze to death on the ice, crew members of the S.S. Newfoundland, another was to succumb to his injuries in St. John’s.  In another tragedy on this same weekend  100 years ago, 176 men on the S.S. Southern Cross never came home.  The theory is that in the height of the storm, somewhere in St. Mary’s Bay the ship’s heavy cargo of seal pelts may have shifted capsizing the steamer.

There was no trace of the 176 men of the Southern Cross, families mourned without the comfort of a proper funeral.

Eight of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland never came home. It is believed that they froze to death on small pans of ice or ice cakes forever separated from their companions.

A month following the disaster, the eight families without the comfort of a body for a proper burial read that a body had been spotted;.The daily newspaper,  the Halifax Chronicle, Halifax, Nova Scotia  on May 11, 1914 reported:

“On Sunday morning,  a lobster fishermen employed by S.C. Clarke’s factory at Bloomingdale Point (Prince Edward Island) on the North side of the island,  found the body of a man frozen fast in a floating ice cake about a half mile  from land. Having nothing with which to cut the body loose from the ice, the fisherman had to abandon it; a heavy gale coming up, the boat had to make for land, and could not return to the body, which was carried out to sea.  

The dead man was evidently a sailor or fisherman judging from his clothing and it is thought to be one of the Newfoundland sealers…”

The man frozen fast in a floating ice cake would have been  one of the eight of the S.S. Newfoundland  that went missing.  The missing men are:

Henry Jordan, D

David Locke

Michael Murray

Art Mouland,

"Uncle Ezra" Melendy

Henry Dowden

James Howell

Philip Holloway

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:  Death on the Front:  The Sealing Disaster 1914.  March 26 – November 16 – Level 3 Museum Alcove. This small display features artifacts from the Rooms Provincial Museum and archival imagery from The Rooms Provincial Archives connected to these tragedies. One of the artifacts featured is a flag that was once flown on the Southern Cross. The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, using animation, survivor testimony and archival footage will be running as part of the Death at the Front exhibition. 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.  A first for the Newfoundland and Labrador publishing industry, as readers turn the pages of Perished they’ll find maps, log book entries, telegrams, a sealer’s ticket for the SS Newfoundland, and more that can be pulled out and examined.  These are the primary source materials that ignite the imagination of history buffs and students alike and are among more than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents that illustrate this amazing book. (NEW PUBLICATION)