September 10, 1894
On September 10, 1894 the local St. John’s newspaper, The Daily News, published a letter to The Editor commenting on development near Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s. The writer was not amused that expansion was taking place near the lake without any definite plan.
The anonymous writer, identified as ‘A Passerby,’ wrote:
“Is there not a law about uniformity in house building.”
The writer was particularly infuriated that shebeens were being constructed and worse tolerated.
Following the Great Fire of 1892 in St. John’s there was in the city a spurt of development that saw a road “pushed rapidly ahead” toward Quidi Vidi. With this new road came development.
The initial structures established appear to have been shebeen’s, the letter to the editor reads:
“Owing to one shebeen, trouble has already ensued; it is rumoured that another is being erected in the opposite direction.”
If sheebeen’s were to be tolerated the letter went on to speculate that next you would see
“ a semi-stable, semi-slaughter-house (being) erected on the banks of the lake.”
The author of the letter would not be happy to find, almost 100 years after he wrote his letter, that a chicken slaughter house was erected near the banks of his beloved lake!!
Newfoundland Term: shebeen n also sheebeen, sheveen: Unlicensed place where illicit liquor is sold. [Dictionary of Newfoundland English]
Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms: Sports Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador photograph collection consists of a series of 212 b&w photographs predominantly of the Royal St. John’s Regatta races and crews, The photographs include team portraits, races underway, presentation of awards and views of the people along the shore of Quidi Vidi Lake.
Recommended Publication: A Gift of Heritage: Historic Architecture of St. John’s, Newfoundland , 2nd ed. , Newfoundland Historic Trust , This publication of the Newfoundland Historic Trust focuses on architecture in St. John’s.