Tag Archives: scotland

Tartan Day in Newfoundland and Labrador

Tartan Day in Newfoundland and Labrador

Credit: Barbara Griffin Art Collections https://pixels.com/profiles/barbara-griffin.html
Newfoundland Nostalgia

Tartan Day in Canada, April 6th, has become a yearly event. The concept of Tartan Day began at a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia on 09 March 1986.

Tartan day  was chosen to promote Scottish Heritage by the most visible means. The wearing of the Scottish attire, especially in places where the kilt is not ordinarily worn, i.e.: work, play or worship.

Starting originally as ‘Tartan Day in Nova Scotia’, Jean Watson approached every provincial Legislative Assembly in Canada, as well as other Scottish-cultural societies across Canada, to help get such a date established.

After ten years of work, Tartan Day in Canada was approved in every Provincial Assembly from sea to sea by Premier’s proclamation or Members’ Bill. The Provincial Government of Newfoundland & Labrador officially adopted the Newfoundland tartan on 6 April 1995.

The official tartan of Newfoundland and Labrador

 The official tartan of Newfoundland and Labrador was designed in 1955 by Samuel B. Wilansky, a local store owner on Water Street in St. John’s. It was registered in the Court of the Lord Lyon in 1973. The white, gold, and yellow come from the province’s official anthem, “Ode to Newfoundland”:

The green represents the pine forests, the white represents snow, the brown represents the Iron Isle, and the red represents the Royal Standard. Its International Tartan Index number is 1543.

The region of Labrador also has its own design of tartan created by Michael S. Martin. The tartan of Labrador, was inspired by the influence of Donald Smith.  Scots migrated to Labrador in the 19th century to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Sir Donald Smith, (1836 – 1914) HBC’s chief trader for Labrador in 1852 and established the company’s headquarters at North West River.  Smith lived at Labrador for 21 years before becoming Lord Strathcona in 1897. Smith became engaged in many other business and political ventures, including helping to make Canada one nation through the visionary plan of a railway system connecting the entire country. As the co-founder of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, Smith spearheaded the building of the trans-Canada railroad and drove the last spike in 1885.  The Labrador tartan  was sent to the Scottish Register of Tartans, which assigned reference number 10004 to the tartan.  See:  https://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails?ref=10004

Photo Credit: The Rooms VA 59 – 46. Scottish soldier and his lover.

“Some of the greatest builders of Empire in Terra Nova have been and are Scotsmen … “

The Scottish are no stranger to Newfoundland and Labrador, in fact it has been said   that “Some of the greatest builders of Empire in Terra Nova have been and are Scotsmen … “  The evidence is persuasive. Some of the Scottish Merchant Firms in Newfoundland and Labrador include:

William Alexander, Bonavista
Baird Brothers, Saltcoats, Ayrshire St. John’s   (1852)  St. Andrew ‘s Society
Browning & Son, biscuit manufacturers, Ayrshire.
Baine, Johnston and Company, Port De Grave and St. John’s  (1780)
Crawford and Company, St. John’s
Goodfellow & Company
Archibald Graham, Trinity
Walter Grieve and Company, St. John’s
Robert Hutton, St. John’s
Hunter and Company, St. John’s
John Munn and Company, Harbour Grace
Robert Templeton of Glenluce, Scotland in 1860.
H. Davidson, Aberdeen, (Messrs. J. & W. Stewart)

Sir Robert Thorburn was born at Juniper Bank, Peebleshire,  1852. Thorburn & Tessier.
Thomas McMurdo & Company,St. John’s  the well-known drug firm, 1823
MacPherson at Port De Grave of Greenock
McBride & Kerr (Greenock)
McPherson , “The Royal Stores, St. John’s
The Reid Newfoundland Company Coupar Angus, Perthshire.
Messrs. Patrick and Andrew Tasker, St. John’s
Rennie Stewart & Company, St. John’s
William Frew, Saltcoats, Ayrshire, in 1881, Newfoundland Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Company.
John Syme,  Irvine, Ayrshire, J. & W. Stewart,. Known as the “Dundee Co.”
James Stewart

The tartan they “richt weel” wore, and far across the foam,
 Did foster the old traditions of the dear loved Highland home.
 The land of Burns and Wallace is proud it gave them birth,
 For all have played a noble part in proving Scotland’s worth

Wear your Newfoundland or Labrador tartan on Saturday, April 6th.

Recommended Reading: The tartan registry:  https://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails?ref=3127 

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms Archives is home to hundreds of photographs that feature individual and family photographs of Scottish heritage.


A Christmas Box for our Soldiers and Sailors

Archival Moment

December 1914

christmaswwixsb05m_mediumDuring the first week of December 1914 throughout Newfoundland and Labrador the conversation in many households was about preparing a ‘Christmas Box’ for the Newfoundland boys who had signed up to fight for King and Country.

If the ‘Christmas Box’ was to reach ‘the boys’ with the Newfoundland Regiment that were stationed in England, it would have to be ready by December 10.

The tradition of the ‘Christmas Box’ is well established in Newfoundland, as early as 1819 the Anglican clergyman Rev Lewis Amadeus in his book ‘A History of the Island of Newfoundland’ observed:

“ [The Christmas boxes are] presents, not in coin. . . but in eatables, from a turkey or a quarter of veal or mutton, or a piece of beef just killed for the occasion, down to a nicely smoked salmon.”

In 1914 a number of St John’s businesses were promoting the notion of sending Christmas Boxes (Hampers) to the young men who had signed up for the war effort. Universal Agencies located at 137 Water Street encouraged family and friends of the Ist Newfoundland Regiment to send the boys “their Xmas Dinner.

Universal Agencies advertised:

“We have just received word from our London connections that should the friends of any of our Volunteers on Salisbury Plain wish to send them Christmas Hampers they will undertake to supply Hampers containing such things as Turkey, Ham, Sausages, Pudding, Mincemeats, Fruit and Confectionary … “

Universal Agencies also advertised that they would offer three different size of hampers, $5.50, $11.00 and $16.50

Families were also told that the ’Christmas Box’ would be incomplete without a package of cigarettes.

“And don’t forget that after a good dinner your boy will appreciate a box of the famous De. Reszke Cigarettes at $1.50.”

In order to make the price of sending a ‘Christmas Box’ cost effective the “ Newfoundland Government removed all duties on smokes going direct to our Soldiers on Salisbury Plains and our Sailors on the Ocean.”

The Christmas Hampers may have been addressed for Pond Camp on the Salisbury Plain where the tented camp was established in October 1914 for the Regiment but by December the Regiment was moved to Fort George, Inverness located in the Highlands of Scotland. The Newfoundland Regiment celebrated its first Christmas away from home with a Regimental dinner and with visits to the many homes of the Scottish people who showed in many ways their appreciation for these young soldiers.

Recommended Archival Collection: http://www.rnr.therooms.ca/part3_database.asp

Recommended Exhibit: The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories. –  – See more at: https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/always/beaumont-hamel-and-the-trail-of-the-caribou#sthash.HNEnynnP.dpuf




Newfoundland soldiers, woolen helmets and buxom Scottish lassies

Archival Moment

February 19, 1915

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: F25. Newfoundland soldiers wearing “woolen helmets.” Can you identify any of these Newfoundland soldiers?

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: F25. Newfoundland soldiers wearing “woolen helmets.” Can you identify any of these Newfoundland soldiers?

The men of the Newfoundland Regiment have long been known as the ‘Blue Puttees’ because of the distinctive “blue leggings” that they wore on departure from Newfoundland to fight in the First World War.

On arrival in England in October 1914, the blue leggings (puttees) were replaced by the standard khaki leggings but the Newfoundlanders continued to differentiate themselves by what they wore, their woolen helmets”.

On arrival in England in October, The Newfoundland Regiment many wearing their knitted toques were at Salisbury Plains, England for several weeks, then they went to the Seaforth Highlanders at Fort George, Inverness, Scotland; from there they were transferred to Edinburgh Castle. It was the first non – Scottish regiment to do so. It was a very prestigious assignment.

The local newspaper the Daily Record and Mail in Glasgow reported on February 19, 1915 about the arrival of the Newfoundlanders in an article that featured a photograph of the Newfoundland Regiment, with the young Newfoundlanders smartly marching. The caption of the photograph reads:

“Soldiers with woolen helmets

A woolen helmet is the quaint headgear worn by a section of the Newfoundland men which are training in Edinburgh.”

The “woolen helmets” were in fact Newfoundland knitted toque’s.

The newspaper account reads:

“The advance party of a Newfoundland Regiment has arrived at the (Edinburgh) Castle and their advent to the city is of more than passing interest.

The members of the advance party of the (Newfoundland Regiment) are a fine looking well set-up and stalwart body of men and with the exception of their headdress which is of a knitted khaki-colored material there is nothing to tell of the difference between the British Regulars and Territorials and themselves.

The (Newfoundland Regiment) advance party took the way to the Castle from the railway station in a style which showed that their training has been in excellent hands and during the day from what was seen of them on the streets it was apparent that they would soon be thoroughly at home.”

The Newfoundland Regiment and later the Newfoundland Forestry Companies were quick to make Scotland their home. John A. Barrett writing home in July 1917 reported:

“In Newfoundland you speak of the ‘wee Scotch lassies’ but they are ‘no so wee at all’. Many of them are buxom, blooming fair ones, and are already becoming greatly attached to some of our lads. Don’t be surprised if some of our confirmed bachelors join the Benedicts before they return to Newfoundland.”

 Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 97-5. The Regimental service hat with the caribou pin was introduced in 1916. Can you identify any of these Newfoundland soldiers?

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 97-5. The Regimental service hat with the caribou pin was introduced in 1916. Can you identify any of these Newfoundland soldiers?

The “woolen helmets” or “knitted toque’s” may have been considered quaint and distinctive by the Scottish locals but the young Newfoundland soldiers were quite embarrassed by them. They were looking forward to receiving their Regimental caps that would arrive a month later.

The “woolen helmets” were soon displaced by the “caribou cap badge” forming one of a number of regimental identifiers worn by the men of the Newfoundland Regiment.

Definition: Benedict, a newly married man who was previously considered a confirmed bachelor. [After Benedick, a character in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.].

Recommended Archival Collection: Patriotic Association of the Women of Newfoundland Description number MG 842.5 This file consists of printed publication prepared by Women’s Patriotic Association (WPA), with introduction by Lady Margaret Davidson. The publication includes instructions for knitting home comforts and convalescent clothes for soldiers.

Recommended Exhibit: At the Rooms: The Newfoundland Regiment and the Gallipoli Campaign: At the Rooms Level 3, Archives Reference Room.   “That there can be no higher praise!” This exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915, where members of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment experienced their baptism by fire and saw their first combat casualties. Lantern slides, photographs, maps and documents provide insights into this ill-fated campaign.

Recommended Reading: Christopher Morry’s: When the Great Red Dawn is Shining: Howard Morry’s Memoirs of Life in the Newfoundland Regiment, 11 Platoon, C Company, RNR. Breakwater Books, St. John’s, 2014.