Tag Archives: Renews

Would the First American Thanksgiving have happened without Newfoundland support?

Archival Moment

November 23, 2017

first-thanksgivingWhen our American friends sit down for their Thanksgiving dinner it might be appropriate if they gave thanks to the early colonists of Newfoundland, in particular the colonists of Cuper’s Cove (now Cupids).

It could be argued that it was some of the early fishing and farming techniques that were practiced in Cupids, Newfoundland and  were later passed on to the  Mayflower Pilgrims  that helped them survive  their first winter  in the United States, allowing them to have their first Thanksgiving!

In late 1614, Squanto (also known as Tisquantum and Squantum ) walked into the London office of John Slany, manager of the Bristol Company, a shipping and merchant venture that had been given rights to Newfoundland by England’s King James I in 1610.  Squanto had been captured four years earlier in his home  (Massachusett) and sold into slavery in Spain. Having escaped his slavers he made his way to London.

Squanto, while in London, worked with Slany learning the English language, Slaney had hoped that Squanto would be his interpreter working with other native groups in the New World. In 1617, Squanto set sail with Slaney and the other Colonists for Cupers Cove,  (Cupids) Newfoundland.

While in Cupers Cove, Squanto worked with the other colonists, perfecting his English and learning farming and fishing techniques.

Late in 1619, Squanto befriended Thomas Dermer, a British Merchant in Newfoundland who agreed to sail Squanto home.  On arrival, Squanto learned that his people the Patuxet  (a Native American band of the Wampanoag tribal confederation, they lived primarily in and around modern-day Plymouth)  were no more. Disease had ravaged his home in his absence, and not a single Patuxet native had survived.

Just weeks later the Mayflower’s naive and ill-prepared (Mayflower) Pilgrims arrived to face the winter of 1620 in the New World. Squanto, now alone and his home and people destroyed became a mediator and interpreter for the Mayflower Colonists.

As historian Charles C. Mann wrote in “Native Intelligence,” (Smithsonian, December 2005):

Squanto was critical to the colony’s survival. The Pilgrims’ own supplies of grain and barley all failed in the New World soil while the native corn gave them a life-saving crop. Squanto taught them how to fish, and how to fertilize the soil with the remains of the fish they caught…|”

In the spring of 1621, the colonists planted their first crops in Patuxet’s abandoned fields. While they had limited success with wheat and barley, their corn crop proved very successful, thanks to Squanto who taught them how to plant corn in hills, using fish as a fertilizer as he had seen in Newfoundland.

With Squanto’s help, the pilgrims grew enough food to survive the following winter, prompting them to invite him to the first Thanksgiving Feast in 1621.

The first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast to celebrate the successful fall harvest. No exact date for the feast has ever been recorded but it is believed that it most likely took place sometime between September and November. The pilgrims served fowl and deer for the occasion.

Squanto’s other claim to fame is that he also served as a negotiator between the Pilgrims and other aboriginal groups in the area. Because he spoke English (that he  perfected in Newfoundland) he was instrumental in establishing a friendship treaty between other aboriginal groups and the Mayflower Pilgrims, allowing them to occupy traditional aboriginal land.

Newfoundland has another connection to the American Thanksgiving. According to a popular local legend the ship that the Puritans sailed on, the Mayflower landed at Renews, Newfoundland in 1620, where it picked up water and supplies before sailing on to Plymouth Rock.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends!!

Recommended Archival Collection:   File GN 8.59 1913 Office of the Prime Minister,  Edward Patrick Morris,  file consists of correspondence related to proposal by Governor Ralph Williams (1908 -1913) for the establishment of Thanksgiving Day in Newfoundland.

Recommended Exhibit:   At the Rooms Level 4:  Feast and Famine. This exhibit draws on the permanent collection to explore the changing relationship between cultural identity and food in Newfoundland and Labrador, as portrayed by artists such as Grant Boland, Ross Flowers, Jamie Lewis, Mary Pratt, and Helen Parsons Shepherd.

Recommended Read: The Story about Squanto in Cupids, Newfoundland:  http://www.cupids400.com/english/about/squanto.php

 

 

 

 

“Women and children first”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

September 27, 1854

 “THIS SMALL CITY (ST. JOHN’S) IS FULL OF WRECKED CREWS AND PASSENGERS.”

Photo Credit: “Wreck of the U.S.M. Steam Ship ‘Arctic’  Cape Race, Newfoundland.  September 27th 1854.  (Source:  N. Currier lithograph.

On (September 27, 1854) two ships collided of Cape Race, Newfoundland because of a heavy fog, killing approximately 350. For the next several weeks the eyes of the world were fixed on Newfoundland as news reporters were scrambling to find any shred of news about the passengers and crews. Lifeboats with the few survivors began to arrive in towns along the Southern Shore the following day.

The Arctic, a four year old luxury ship, piloted by Captain James Luce sailing out of Liverpool, England slammed into the steamer Vesta, an iron-hulled ship piloted by Captain Alphonse Puchesne, transporting French fishermen from St. Peter’s (now St. Pierre)  to France at the end of the summer’s fishing season.

Immediately upon impact, the Arctic released lifeboats, but many capsized in the choppy waters. Lurid tales of panic aboard the sinking ship were widely publicized in newspapers. Members of the crew had seized the lifeboats and saved themselves, leaving helpless passengers, including 80 women and children, to perish in the icy North Atlantic. It is believed 24 male passengers and about 60 crew members survived.

The captain of the Arctic, James Luce, heroically tried to save the ship and get the panicking and rebellious crew under control. Upon his return to the United States he was treated as a hero, however, other crew members of the Arctic were disgraced, and some never returned to the United States.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST”

The first of the survivors made their way to Broad Cove, near Cape Race from there they proceeded to Renews where they began to mount a search for the wreck of the their ship. The search was headed by the local merchant Mr. Alan Goodridge of Renews.  No sign was found. Some survivors and the crew of the Vesta limped into St. John’s.  The newspapers of the day were reporting that “this small city (St. John’s) is full of wrecked crews and passengers.”  

The New York Times reported:

 “many small vessels which were immediately undertaken in search of the steamer or of any of her boats, had returned from unsuccessful cruises, and that very little hope is entertained for the safety of any…”

The public outrage over the treatment of the women and children aboard the ship resonated for decades, and led to the familiar tradition of saving women and children first” being enforced in other maritime disasters.

Recommended Archival Collection:  Explore the online  collection  held at The Rooms. Search the Archives from the comforts of your home:: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Archival Collection:   The Maritime History Archives, (MHA) Memorial University of Newfoundland holds a beautiful hand colored lithograph of the Arctic.  It shows the ship broke up on the rocks with passengers and crew struggling in the cold Atlantic.

Recommended Publication:  Baehre, Rainer K. (ed.) (1999) Outrageous Seas: Shipwreck and Survival in the Waters Off Newfoundland, 1583-1893. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999, ISBN:0886293588

Why are the Catholics hiding in the hills?

Archival Moment

April 13, 1829

Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore Oral history purports that Mass Rock was the site of secret Catholic gatherings.

Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore Oral history purports that Mass Rock was the site of secret Catholic gatherings.

On April 13, 1829 a significant milestone in Irish history was reached when King George IV reluctantly gave royal assent to the Roman Catholic Relief Act.

This Act effectively removed a series of laws known as Penal Laws or Popery Laws that severely limited the ability of a Catholic to do anything.

Some of the laws included:

•     Forbid a Catholic from exercising his religion

•     Forbid the Catholic from receiving a Catholic education

•     Forbid the Catholic from entering a profession

•     Forbid the Catholic from holding Public Office

•     Forbid the Catholic from owning a horse worth more than 5 pounds

•     Forbid the Catholic from buying or leasing land

•     Forbid the Catholic from voting

•     Forbid the Catholic from receiving a gift or inheritance of land from a Protestant

•     Forbid the Catholic from renting any land that was worth more than thirty shillings

•     Forbid the Catholic from sending their children abroad for an education

Upon receipt of the news that the Penal Laws had been struck down Bishop Thomas Scallan in St. John’s, Newfoundland declared 21st  May a day of public thanksgiving.  In St. John’s and other major towns throughout the island, bands, parades, and special church services evidenced the pleasure of Catholics that the penal restrictions of centuries had been lifted.

However, their joy was short-lived; by December the colony’s attorney general, James Simms, and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland had concluded that the relief bill was inoperative in the colony of Newfoundland.  Catholic emancipation did not finally come to Newfoundland until the proclamation of representative government and the calling of the first elections on 26 August 1832.

It was during the years when the Penal Laws were in effect that traditions such as the Mass Rock in Renews on the Southern Shore and  Pulpit Rock in the Torbay area  were developed. Oral history purports that Mass Rock  and Pulpit Rock were  the site of secret Catholic gatherings. Disguised priests and settlers would gather to celebrate mass or say prayers while lookouts were stationed at vantage point to spot English authorities. While no official record exists of the activities at Mass Rock and Pulpit Rock , a legendary cycle regarding the sites  continues to exists.

Archival Collection: To explore some of the issues that were being discussed read the Colonial Office Records (CO 194 -678-83) Governor Cochrane’s Correspondence at The Rooms Provincial Archives.

Recommended Reading: Irish In Newfoundland 1600-1900 by Michael McCarthy, Creative Book Publishing, St. John’s, 1999. This book paints a vivid picture of the Irish experience from the early days of anti-Catholic persecution in Newfoundland when a house could be burned to the ground simply because Mass had been said there.

Recommended Website: Laws in Ireland for the Suppression of POPERY commonly known as the PENAL Laws.  Read More:  http://library.law.umn.edu/irishlaw/index.html