Tag Archives: Smallwood

A New Bridge for Placentia Gut


September 23, 2016

On  October 28, 1961, the Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge was officially opened by Premier J.R. Smallwood.

Previous to the new bridge residents of the area  were advocating for a bridge across the main gut  through petitions presented to government  as early as 1926.


in 1942 a scow was put on the Placentia gut by the Americans to transport vehicles (for travel to the wireless stations they had set up on the Cape Shore). They later replaced this with a pontoon bridge, but because of the strong tides the bridge could not be kept in place.

The original  Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge consists of two approach spans and one centre vertical lift span each 100 feet in length. The total weight of the centre span which can be raised in one and a half minutes is 100 tons. Clearance under the span in the down position is 10 feet, and when raised is 70 feet.

In May 2011 the Provincial Government issued a tender to replace the aging “iconic structure.”  The new lift bridge Sir Ambrose Shea bridge  was built directly adjacent to the existing bridge.

NEW BRIDGE  OPENS – September 23, 2016


The Honourable Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, joined with the Honourable Al Hawkins, Minister of Transportation and Works, the Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, and MHA for Placentia – St. Mary’s, Ken McDonald, Member of Parliament for Avalon, along with His Worship, Wayne Power, Mayor of Placentia, and members of the community, to officially recognize the opening.

The lift bridge is staffed year round, 24-hours a day. The bridge is lifted approximately 2,400 times annually for marine traffic and sees about 6,500 vehicles pass over per day. During the busiest spring months when crab and lobster fisheries are at their peak, the bridge can lift over 400 times a month.

The new Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge cost approximately $47.7 million, which includes construction, engineering and demolition and removal of the old bridge. The construction of the bridge saw the placement of 9,200 metres of steel piling, 3,800 cubic metres of concrete, 150 tonnes of reinforcing steel and approximately 976 tonnes of structural steel.

Mayor Wayne Power of Placentia said “Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge provides a vital link for our communities; it also allows access to the harbour and serves as a unique attraction for visitors. The opening of the new bridge is a great milestone and as a community we are thankful for the investment made to make this a reality.”

New Word:  Bascule Bridge from the French word for “see-saw,” a bascule bridge features a movable span (leaf) that rotates on a horizontal hinged axis (trunnion) to raise one end vertically. A large counterweight is used to offset the weight of the raised leaf.

New Word: Scow  – a large flatbottom boat with square ends, used chiefly for transporting freight

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives explore MG 83 the Bradshaw Family collection that consists of 7 files comprised of land grants for Placentia Gut and North East Arm, bills of sale, printed speeches and advertisements. also contains 2 maps, [ca. 1840] The maps are a Map of Ordnance property, Placentia 1806; copied 1881 and Plan of Placentia, 1741.

Who was Ambrose Shea? Read More: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/shea_ambrose_13E.html

Recommended Song: The Bridge at Placentia Gut:  http://www.laval.k12.nf.ca/poem.htm

New Memorial University Campus Opened


October 9th, 1961

Provehito in Altum (Launch forth into the deep)

On October 9th, 1961, the Elizabeth Avenue   campus of Memorial  University of Newfoundland  in St. John’s was formally opened. Attending the opening  were  a number of well-known dignitaries including Prime Minister  John Diefenbaker, Premier Joseph Smallwood, Lord Thomson of Fleet and  Eleanor Roosevelt.

Mrs. Roosevelt, the widow of the President of theUnited States of America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was the official emissary of the President of theUnited States, John F. Kennedy.  Mrs. Roosevelt formerly passed over to the Board of Regents and the Senate, the new campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Thousands of school children from all parts of the province took part  in the parade up Elizabeth Avenue.

Memorial Universitybegan as Memorial University College (MUC), which opened in September 1925 at a campus onParade StreetinSt. John’s.

Upon opening MUC offered the first two years of university studies, the initial enrollment was 57 students, rising to a peak of over 400 in the 1940s.

The college was established as a memorial to the Newfoundlanders who had lost their lives on active service during the First World War. It was later rededicated to also encompass the province’s war dead of the Second World War.

The post-Confederation government elevated the status of Memorial University College to full university status in August 1949, renaming the institution to Memorial University of Newfoundland.  The enrollment in MUN’s first year was 307 students. In 1961, enrollment increased to 1400.

Recommended Reading:  Dr. Mel Baker, ‘Celebrate Memorial: A Pictorial History of Memorial University of Newfoundland’ (St. John’s Newfoundland: Memorial University Press © 1999)

Malcolm MacLeod. ‘A Bridge Built Halfway: A History of Memorial University College, 1925-1950.’MontrealandKingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990.

Recommended to View: http://collections.mun.ca/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/mun_opening&CISOPTR=0&CISOBOX=1&REC=2

Recommended Websitehttp://www.mun.ca/

“Archbishop, spinning in his grave”


September 23, 1950

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 23-129; Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche
Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 23-129; Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche

Edward Patrick Roche was born in Placentia  on February 14, 1874  son of Edward Roche and Mary Riely (O’Reiley) He was educated at St. Patrick’s Hall School  and St. Bonaventure’s College, both in St. John’s, and studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood at All Hallows College, Dublin, Ireland, being ordained there June 24, 1897.

In 1907 he was transferred to St. John’s where he became Chancellor and Vicar-General of the Archdiocese under Archbishop Michael F. Howley.

On February 26, 1915 Pope Pius X appointed him Archbishop of St. John’s. He was consecrated as Archbishop at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, St. John’s, on June 29, 1915.

It was as a supporter of the return of Newfoundland to responsible government and as a determined opponent of Confederation with Canada he gained much notoriety in the late 1940s. The campaign for confederation found in him one of its fiercest opponents.

He was convinced that no good could come to Newfoundland from Confederation.  The archbishop argued through the pages of The Monitor, the monthly Roman Catholic newspaper that before confederation could be thought of,  responsible government— as promised by Britain — was the way to go.  He was actively involved in the 1948 referenda campaigns, encouraging all Newfoundlanders, but particularly Roman Catholics, to vote for the return of responsible government.

Roche died on September 23, 1950, a little less than a year and a half after Confederation, after having served as Archbishop for over 35 years.

He was buried in the crypt under the main altar of the Basilica Cathedral.

Even in death, some Roman Catholics argue, Archbishop Roche was not reconciled to Confederation.  When Archbishop Roche’s great foe the Confederate Premier Joseph R. Smallwood died in December 1991 the provincial government approached the Roman Catholic Basilica Cathedral to host a state funeral for him.  The Basilica has the larger seating capacity of any church in the city.  The irony of having Joey Smallwood in the Roman Catholic Basilica was not lost on some parishioners.  It is said, that one of the Basilica Parishioners was urged to go into the crypt during the funeral service because the suspicion was that “Roche was spinning in his grave because Smallwood was in his church.”

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives  explore GN 154  Newfoundland Delegation to Ottawa  fonds. This series consists of letters to the Chairman and the Secretary of the Newfoundland Delegation to Ottawa from various societies, business firms, unions, and government agencies concerning the ramifications of confederation with Canada for Newfoundland interests. The series are arranged by subject.

Recommended Publication: Confederation: Deciding Newfoundland’s Future, 1934 to 1949 by James K. Hiller, St. John’s, Nfld: Newfoundland Historical Society, 1998; reprinted with minor corrections 1999 75p. : bib, illus, map

Recommedned Reading on Line: ‘The True Father of Confederation’?: Archbishop E. P. Roche. Term 17, and Newfoundland’s Confederation with Canada  by John Edward FitzGerald.  Newfoundland Studies 14, 2 (1998)  http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/NFLDS/article/view/787/1141

Recommended Song:  Joan Morrissey, The Anti Confederation Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLpWCiFyHT0