Tag Archives: Newfoundland

The Oldest Man in the World is a Newfoundlander


June 18, 2013

James Foster McCoubrey "The oldest man in the world."
James Foster McCoubrey
“The oldest man in the world.”

James Foster McCoubrey originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland is 111 years old and became the oldest man in the world upon the death of a 116-year-old man in Japan last week.

McCoubrey was born in St. John’s on September 13, 1901.  He was baptized at St. Mary the Virgin Church, St. John’s on September 29, 1901.

The baptismal register identifies his father as George Andrew McCoubrey  and his mother as Jennie Isobel (Chafe). The family lived on Water Street.

On May 23, 1904, McCoubrey lost his father, the second engineer on the Virginia Lake, a coastal mail streamer running from St. John’s to St. Anthony. His father obituary reads that  “he was ill for about three months of pneumonia caused by a heavy cold.”

George A. McCoubrey left to mourn his wife Jennie and two children James and Charles.   He is buried in the Old Anglican cemetery on the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake in a family plot.

James moved with his mother and brother Charles to Halifax, Nova Scotia shortly following the death of his father.

The family later relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts. The state  of Massachusetts is known to most Newfoundlanders as the ‘Boston States’ and one of the favored destinations for Newfoundlanders in the early 1900’s seeking work.  It is likely that that James and his family would be joining family already established in the Boston area. The  1915 Commonwealth of Boston census  reports that 13,269 residents of the Boston area claimed Newfoundland as their place of birth.

McCoubrey married in 1929 and worked as a motorcycle insurance salesman. Then he got into the stove burner business until he retired at the age of 62.

Mr. McCoubrey has one daughter, Mrs. Patricia Salveson. He currently lives in Walnut Creek, California in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Mr. McCoubrey is a member of an exclusive club known as the “Supercentenarians” His membership in the club was verified by the Gerontology Research Group. Founded in 1990,  the GRG  are physicians, scientists, and engineers dedicated to the quest to slow and ultimately reverse human aging within the next 20 years. The group is the world authority on validating Supercentenarians, persons 110 years old or older.

Mr. McCoubrey will have to keep an eye to the Guinness World Book curse. The Japanese gentleman (Kimura) who has moved on at age 116 is just the latest to die after being picked by Guinness as the world’s oldest person.

Significant Events in 1901, the year that James Foster McCoubrey was born in Newfoundland.

January 1, 1901:   The world celebrates the beginning of the 20th century.

January 1 The birth of Pentecostalism at a prayer meeting at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas.

January 22 Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom dies at age 81.

Jan 10th – Oil discovered in Texas

January 28 – Baseball’s American League declares itself a Major League

February 6 – First public telephones at railway stations in Paris.

Safety Razor , King C. Gillette and William Emerson Nickerson found the American Safety Razor Company to begin mass producing Safety Razors.

April 25 – New York State becomes the first to require automobile license plates.

May 23rd – Ottawa Mint Act receives Royal Assent

Jun 2nd – Benjamin Adams arrested for playing golf on Sunday (NY)

Jun 24th – 1st exhibition by Pablo Picasso, 19, opens in Paris

August 30 – Hubert Cecil Booth patents an electric vacuum cleaner in the United Kingdom.

October 2 – The British Royal Navy’s first submarine.

Oct 12th – Theodore Roosevelt renames “Executive Mansion,” “The White House”

November 25 – Auguste Deter is first examined by German psychiatrist Dr Alois Alzheimer, leading to a diagnosis of the condition that will carry Alzheimer’s name.[3]

December 10 – The first Nobel Prize ceremony is held in Stockholm on the fifth anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.

December 12 – Guglielmo Marconi receives the first trans-Atlantic radio signal, sent from  England to Newfoundland.

Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms Provincial Archives:  Marriage, Baptismal Registers. St. Mary the Virgin Parish, St. John’s.

Recommended Website:  GRG: Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers dedicated to the quest to slow and ultimately reverse human aging. http://www.grg.org/

Franciscans Lobby to Hold Newfoundland, the Orphan Church.

May 8, 1870

Bisop Thomas Power of St. John's, Newfoundland friend of Cardianl Cullen

After the death of Bishop John Thomas Mullock, O.S.F in March 1869, the Episcopal see of St John’s, Newfoundland, had remained vacant for more than a year.

The Irish Franciscans lobbied hard in Rome to continue their unbroken line as vicars apostolic and bishops of Newfoundland. Since the Roman Catholic Church was officially established in Newfoundland in 1784 only priests ordained for the order of St. Francis (Franciscans, O.S.F.) had lead the church in Newfoundland.

The attempts of the Franciscans were futile. Paul (Cardinal) Cullen, Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin was determined to see that Father Thomas J. Power a secular priest friend and protégé of his be elected Bishop of St. John’s. Power was named Bishop on this day 8 May 1870.

 Cardinal Cullen’s influence was felt around the world in a carefully planned campaign to install Irish bishops.  Cullen was able to influence the choice of appointments to Episcopal sees in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Newfoundland.  The twelve Irish priests appointed to Australian sees in 1846-78 were all in some way Cullen’s men. InCanadahe was influential in having his friend (Bishop) George Conroy named as the first apostolic delegate toCanada.  Cullen’s Irish men were a close network around the world.

 Bishop Power of Newfoundlandwas consecrated bishop of St John’son 12 June, 1870 in Romeby the Irish cardinal. The next day the new bishop took his seat in the first Vatican Council, and on 18 July, 1870 voted for the dogma of the infallibility of the pope.  After a brief visit to Dublin, Power arrived in Newfoundland on 9 September, 1870.

Shortly after the vote Cardinal Cullen urged the newly ordained Bishop Power to leave forNewfoundland because of the absence of Episcopal leadership in Newfoundland.  In 1869, Newfoundland was referred to as the “orphan church” Bishop John Dalton of Harbour Grace had died in March and Bishop John Thomas Mullock of St. John’s had died in March leaving Newfoundland without a Roman Catholic bishop.

Recommended Reading:  Imperium in Imperio’: Irish Episcopal Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century* by Colin Barr , Ave Maria University, Naples, Florida

Newfoundland Politicians, Bishops and Cardinals – International Connections


May 4, 1864

Sketch of Philip Little, published in Centenary Volume, Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) 1906.

On this day May 4, 1864 Judge Philip F.Little of St. John’s was married (Mary Jane Holdright) from a wealthy Anglo – Irish family at Dublin, Ireland by Cardinal Paul Cullen.

He became Newfoundland’s first Premier (Prime Minister)  in 1855. He remained in office until 1858. In that time, he managed to secure Newfoundland’s autonomy, in making sure Newfoundland had a say over its own destiny. He resigned in 1858 saying “I go now before the milk of human kindness goes sour for me”.

Soon after his marriage, Little moved to Ireland permanently. He lived the rest of his life in Ireland, near the farms of relatives; managing properties owned by his wife’s family as well as those he acquired himself. He was prominent as a lawyer and became active in the Irish Home Rule movement.

In 1883 the Sisters of Mercy in Newfoundland  purchased Littledale, the former estate of Philip Francis Little, on Waterford Bridge Road, St. John’s. At that time the Sisters converted the three-storey house and with the addition of a classroom and dormitory, the school opened as St. Bride’s (College) Academy on August 20, 1884 as a Catholic girls’ boarding school run by them.

Little died at the age of 73 in 1897 in Ireland.

Having the very busy Cardinal Archbishop Paul Cullen perform the marriage was no small feat and was no doubt arranged by Bishop John Thomas Mullock, a friend of Cardinal Cullen’s. Cullen was the first Irish Cardinal in the church. He is best known for his crafting of the formula for papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council. He was considered one of the most influential Roman Catholics in the world.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division – MG 212 –consists of microfilmed records relating to the political and legal career of Philip F. Little during 1840-1890.  The collection is composed of correspondence, letters of introduction, addresses, certificates and commissions.

Newfoundland and Australia: Old Music Connection


April 3, 2012

Newfoundland and Australia : Old Music Connection

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division, B 22-55

 Francis Forbes’s, Chief Justice of Newfoundlandand later first Chief Justice of Australia is credited with writing “The Banks of Newfoundland”.

Most would immediately recognize the tune as “Up the Pond,” the familiar music at the annual St. John’s Regatta and a piece steeped in the tradition of North America’s oldest continuing sporting event.

“The Banks of Newfoundland” enjoyed a populist appeal in nineteenth-century Newfoundlandthat would have likely astounded Justice Forbes.

Initially published for solo piano by Oliver Ditson of Boston, the piece became best known as a regimental march performed by the Band of the Royal Newfoundland Companies and a variety of other military and civilian ensembles active inNewfoundlandat the time.

Processions, festivals, dinners, soirees, and the like were frequently enlivened with renditions of the popular tune, a tradition that began in the 1820s and proliferated in the years following the granting of representative government.

At the turn of the twentieth century it was considered an unofficial national anthem of Newfoundlandand has remained the march commonly associated with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Recommended Reading:  Australian Dictionary of Biography  http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/forbes-sir-francis-2052

Recommended Reading:  Imagining Nation: Music and Identity in Pre-Confederation Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador Studies.  Volume 22, Number 1 (2007), Glenn Colton

Recommended to Listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNVQdwzMKpA



Was the Bishop Excommunicated?


January 26, 1816

Bishop Michael Fleming giving the last rites of the church to Bishop Thomas Scallan.

On January 26, 1816 the talk in St. John’s was all about the appointment of a Father Thomas Scallan, (also Scallon) who was given the nod to succeed as the new Catholic bishop in Newfoundland.    

Scallan was very well educated; in his career he had been a lecturer in philosophy at the prestigious St Isidore’s College, Rome and a professor of classics at the Franciscan Academy at Wexford, Ireland, a preparatory seminary for candidates for the priesthood.

What is most telling about his tenure as Bishop of Newfoundland is the memorial or relief that was established in the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) to celebrate his work in Newfoundland.

Scallan in his relationship with the leaders of other denominations was considered to be far ahead of his time. His ecumenical spirit in fact stirred occasional and considerable controversy.

Indeed, Bishop Michael Francis Howley from St. John’s, attributed such ecumenism to a mental weakness. He stated flatly in his Ecclesiastical History of Newfoundland (1888)  that Scallan was reprimanded  by Rome for his ecumenical spirit.  He did not identify the type of reprimand  but the most severe censure or reprimand in the Catholic Church is excommunication.

Indeed, this story that he was reprimanded by Rome became  generally accepted – and was compounded by the story that he was refused the last rites of the church.  To quiet the rumors that he was on the verge of excommunication and or perhaps even excommunicated the local church authorities ordered the creation of an  unusual monument of Scallan by the famous Irish sculptor John Hogan.  

The monument  depicts Scallan on his deathbed receiving the last sacraments (last rites) of the church. It was placed  in the Basilica to show his reconciliation with the church.

 Recommended Archival Collection :  Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese

Recommended Reading: Michael Francis Howley’s Ecclesiastical history of Newfoundland . 1888:  was reprinted atBelleville, Ont., in 1979.

Auld Lang Syne – Times Gone By

December 31


The most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year’s eve, “Auld Lang Syne” is a Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.

“Auld Lang Syne” literally translates as “old long since” and means “times gone by.” The song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness, “For auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet.”

There’s plenty of documentary evidence establishing “Auld Lang Syne” as a favorite since the mid-19th century:

The company joined hands in the great music room at midnight and sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as the last stroke of 12 sounded.
– The New York Times (1896)

It was a Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo who popularized the song. Lombardo first heard “Auld Lang Syne” in his hometown of London, Ontario, where it was sung by Scottish immigrants. When he and his brothers formed the dance band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year’s eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel inNew York City in 1929, and a tradition was born.

The song became such a New Year’s tradition that “Life magazine wrote that if Lombardo failed to play ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ the American public would not believe that the new year had really arrived.”

There is  – as with all things –  a Newfoundland connection. The musical Auld Lang Syne was written by Newfoundland born playwright Hugh Abercrombie Anderson. Born in St. John’s, Anderson was the son of politician John Anderson. In 1921 he became manager of a theatrical business in New York owned by his brother John Murray Anderson. Under the pen name of Hugh Abercrombie he wrote the musical Auld Lang Syne, a musical romance in two acts.  It was used as the theme song in the 1940 movieWaterlooBridge.

Recommended Reading: http://www.enotes.com/topic/Auld_Lang_Syne

Recommended Video – Sing Alonghttp://www.vxv.com/video/jtHVO6xf9Zqz/happy-new-year-auld-lang-syne-by-sissel-live-wmv.html  (Auld Lang Syne by Sissel (Live).wmv)


Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago!

For times gone by, my dear
For times gone by,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For times gone by.

We two have paddled (waded) in the stream
From noon until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since times gone by.

And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill drink (of ale)
For times gone by!

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by!

Happy New Year.

I hope that you are enjoying your “Archival Moments”. 

If you would like to comment or make suggestions about content drop me a line  in the New Year at whiteway@nl.rogers.com. I would love to hear from you!!