Tag Archives: Romance

Firing guns at weddings

Archival Moment

February 10, 1882

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 104-22.1; Royal salute or feu de joie for a wedding party at Harrington Harbour. International Grenfell Association photograph collection. Note the men with the guns in the background.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 104-22.1; Royal salute or feu de joie for a wedding party at Harrington Harbour. International Grenfell Association photograph collection. Note the men with the guns in the background.

There is a long established tradition in Newfoundland that encourages the “discharging of fire arms” for the purpose of creating a noise especially to celebrate a marriage. As the bride and groom leave the church the men of the town stand about discharging their guns in celebration.

On February 10, 1882 the Editor of the local paper the Twillingate Sun, Jabez P. THOMPSON, spoke out against the custom suggesting that rather than discharging their guns, pistols and firearms that they would be better served to buy present for the newly married. He wrote:

“It has been suggested that if persons are anxious to manifest esteem for their newly married friends, could it not be done in a more tangible way by presenting them with a valuable present, which the cost of the powder so used would be likely to procure. We would recommend such a plan.”

Francis BERTEAU, Stipendiary Magistrate in Twillingate was another who was not fan of discharging guns at weddings. The Magistrates objection was prompted by the fact that a case was before him in his court, a short time before, the cause of the complaint being that the plaintiff’s horse had taken fright by the firing of guns while passing the public streets.

The Editor argued:

“Magistrate BERTEAU has given caution against the unnecessary discharging of fire arms, as prevention to any serious accident that might accrue by a persistency in such a dangerous practice.”

The government of the day was also keen to stop the practice, in January 1882 a new law was passed that read:

“Any person firing any Gun, Pistol or other Fire-arms in any City, Town, or Settlement in this Island for the purpose of creating a noise or disturbance, or without some necessity or reasonable excuse for so doing, shall for every such offence pay a penalty not exceeding Twenty Dollars.”

The new law was to fall on deaf ears; the tradition of firing guns at weddings continued and remains a tradition in many communities throughout the province. Those who fired the guns always found “some necessity or reasonable excuse.”

The tradition of ‘firing the guns’ at a wedding continues in communities long the Cape Shore. Do you know of other communities?

The ‘firing of the guns’ is not to be confused with a ‘gunshot wedding’!

Recommended Archival Collection: Planning on doing some family research. The Rooms Provincial Archives is home to the largest collection of Parish Marriage Registers in the province.

Recommended Reading: Getting Married in Newfoundland and Labrador: http://www.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/birth/getting_married/



Art, Forgery and Prison Romance


June 15, 1880

Hall Ceiling Painted by Pindkowsky, Government House

On June 17, 1880, the Carbonear Herald a local Newfoundland newspaper reported on the conviction of  Alexander Pindikowsky, a young artist and fresco painter, convicted for forgery. He was sentenced on June 15, 1880 to fifteen months at her Majesty’s Penitentiary.

The St. John’s newspaper, The Royal Gazette reported:

 “Pindinkowsky was ordered within five days of his release to quit the country (Newfoundland) for life, in default of which, on his return to the country at any time, he is to receive further imprisonment.”

Pindikowsky  (also Pindikowskie) arrived in Newfoundland in 1879 as a professional artist and fresco painter. He was hired by the Anglo American Telegraph Company to give art instruction to interested employees and their wives at Hearts Content Cable Office.

He was arrested on March 10, 1880 and charged with attempting forge two cheques in the name of E. Weedon, Esq. of Hearts Content, Trinity Bay.

The Polish artist’s talents as a fresco painter were brought to the attention of the authorities at the Penitentiary and they were soon put to official use, in return for a remission of five weeks on his sentence. He was set to work designing and painting frescos, to relieve the drabness of the state rooms of Government House.

Governor John Hawley Glover (1876-1885) was so delighted with the frescos that he suggested to Prime Minister William Whiteway that the prisoner Pindinkowsky also decorate the ceilings of the two legislative chambers of the Colonial Building.  Seeing an opportunity the Presentation Sisters at Cathedral Square in St. John’s who were in the process of working on their chapel and drawing room invited the talents of the young artist.

Each day Pindinowsky was brought from the penitentiary to his place of work until the frescos were complete.

It could be said that this is one of the first documented cases of  a prison rehabilitation program in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Researcher and historian, John O’Mara in his research on Government House in St. John’s discovered that Pindikowsky was also a romantic. In his research he discovered the face of a woman subtly painted into the ceiling of government house.  Some believe her to be one of the maids at government house.  She could possibly be Ellen Dormody the mother of Pindikowsky’s first child, Johanna Mary Ellen Pindikowskie, who was baptized at the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) on May 1, 1882.

It is clear that Pindikowsky banishment from the country was withdrawn, he decided to stay in Newfoundland. In 1882 he was advertising his services in a local newspaper, as a fresco painter.

The Athenaeum, established in 1879 with it’s 1,000 seat theatre, that was central to much of the musical activity of the city hired him. He painted some very fine murals on the interior walls of the building. Unfortunately the theatre and his work were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1892.

Pindikowsky left St. John’s for the ‘Boston States’ in approximately 1882  followed a year later by Ellen Dormody. She is recorded as travelling from St. John’s to Boston on the SS Colan (or Coban) in 1883.

Life in Boston was unsettled they fist settled in Malden, Mass in 1885 where he is listed in the city directory as a painter then Brockton, Mass, in the city directories of 1887, 1888 and 1889, back to Malden for 1890, then in Newport, RI where he was listed in the city directory as a painter in 1897 and later back in Brockton, Mass.

It appears that he died between 1887 -1906.  His wife is listed in the  Brockton city directory as a nurse and a widow in 1906.

Ellen Dormody the wife of Pindikowsky would have felt very at home in the Boston area. The Commonwealth of Boston census for 1885 reports that 2851 Newfoundlanders had settled in the city and surrounding towns. That number had grown to 7,591 Newfoundlanders by 1895.  The census for Boston in 1915 reports that 13,269 residents of the Boston area claimed Newfoundland  as their place of birth.

The ‘Boston States’ and  Newfoundland  have many connections.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Take a look at some of the  photographs  of the interior of Government House –  100 years ago – Pindikowsky  is responsible for the ceilings. Type  Government House Interior in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Reading: Art, Love and Savagery: Carolyn Moran. Flanker Press, St. John’s, 2016.

Recommended Website:  http://www.heritage.nf.ca/govhouse/govhouse/tour2.html

Recommended VisitTo see the work of Alexander Pindikowsky both Government House and Presentation Convent are available to the public by appointment.  The Colonial Building is undergoing extensive renovations and is closed.


A Newfoundland and Labrador geographical romance


February 14, 1918

Newfoundland and Labrador a place of romance.

Newfoundland and Labrador a place of romance.

This is a 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.  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 and was 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 under a pen name, or “nom de plume” by Bald Nap.  It is  possible that the writer  was from Bald Nap  described as an outport on Bay d’Espoir located in the Trinity District.

This  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.

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.

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.