Tag Archives: snow

No flying saucers in Victoria Park

Archival Moment

February 1916

City outlaws crazy carpets and flying saucers.

City outlaws crazy carpets and flying saucers.

Signage declaring new regulations about sliding on the hills in St. John’s has been posted in public places throughout the city. The signage declares a whole raft of rules about what can and cannot be done when snow sliding.

Some think that this is a new  conversation, but the reality is that regulations about snow sliding or sledding in St. John’s started 100 years ago.

In 1916 “skating or sliding down the hills” was on the agenda of Newfoundland legislators, so much so  that the lawmakers opted to pass legislation about sliding.

In Chapter 51 of the Consolidated Acts, 1916 under the chapter title “Of Nuisances and Municipal Regulations” Section 14 the Act reads:

“The stipendiary magistrate may make regulations for preventing persons from coasting, skating or sliding down the hills or highways or streets …”

The focus of the legislation in 1916 was on the  “… skating or sliding down the hills or highways or streets…”  

There was a time when the ‘townies’ loved nothing more than grabbing their sleigh for a ride down of the steep hills of the city. The practice was however quite dangerous.

The local newspapers reported on an almost daily basis about individuals being injured on the hills of the town.

On January 14, 1916 the Evening Telegram reported:

“Boy Injured while sliding over Prescott Street”  Yesterday after noon,  newsboy met with a painful accident. He collided with another sled resulting in a deep wound being inflicted in his leg. The injured youth was brought to a nearby drug store for treatment and was later conveyed home and attended by a doctor. “

On February 18, 1916 under the headline “Dangerous practice the sliding of children” the Telegram reported:

“The sliding of children on the city heights is a very dangerous practice particularly on those hills near the street car rails. This morning two children of Hutching’s Street narrowly escaped being killed by a passing street car. The sled on which the youngsters were seated passing in front of the car’s fender by a couple of feet. “

The new signage posted on St. John’s hills and parks  (including Victoria Park) owned by the city comes after the city of St. John’s had to review  its liability in the wake of the city of Hamilton, Ontario being sued following an injury at a popular sledding hill . The City of Sudbury, Ontario in response to the same lawsuit responded by fencing off a sliding hill and banning tobogganing on public land outright.

Almost 100 years following the initial conversation about snow sliding on the hills of St. John’s the conversation continues. The warning signs in Victoria Park read no  “crazy carpets and flying saucers.”

Learn more about Victoria Park, St. John’s: Read More:

Learn more about Victoria Park:  https://www.facebook.com/VPRenewal/

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives. The consolidated statutes of Newfoundland : being a consolidation of the statute law of the colony down to and including the session of the Legislature in the year 1916 / printed and published by and under the authority of the Governor in Council, and proclaimed under the authority of the Act 9 and 10, George V., cap. X., 1918.

The danger of walking on the streets of St. John’s


January 15, 1850

Photo Credit: the Rooms Provincial Archives: A 35-61; Snow Banks on Military Road, Colonial Building in Background

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 35-61; Snow Banks on Military Road, Colonial Building in Background.  [ca 1910]

The complaints of the residents of St. John’s about snow clearing and allowing pedestrian’s safe passage on the streets are not new.  As early as 1850 the town now city of St. John’s has been trying to negotiate the delicate balance between walkers and drivers.

An Editorial in the Morning Post and Shipping Gazette a St. John’s newspaper on January 15, 1850 speaks about the difficulty of getting about the town.  The editorial reads:

“Solely from a desire to preserve the well-being of all classes in the community, we call the attention of the Police to the extreme carelessness manifested by the drivers of vehicles of almost every kind, in neglecting to provide them with a sufficiency of bells to give the foot passenger timely notice to move out of their way.

No person in St. John’s need be reminded of the difficulty, and often danger, of perambulating the streets of this town during the winter months ….

The Police would do well to order that all vehicles, both sleighs and slides, whether drawn by horses or dogs, shall be amply provided with bells  to give timely notice of their approach; an order which, we hope will not  only be given, but strictly attended to and rigidly enforced.”

Pedestrians, if you are preambulating the streets,  wear light or reflective clothing.  These drivers need to see you!

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives Division read the old newspaper accounts that give great insight into the events of the past.  http://www.therooms.ca/archives/

Recommended Web Site: City of St. John’s Snow Clearing: http://www.stjohns.ca/living-st-johns/streets-traffic-and-parking/snow-clearing

Recommended to Read: Rain, Drizzle and Fog: Newfoundland Weather by Sheilah Roberts. Boulder Publications,  2014.    Newfoundlanders love to talk about the weather. And why wouldn’t they? The province is known for its great gales, fierce blizzards, destructive glitter storms, blizzards, and hurricanes. Sheilah Roberts delves into the archives, to find stories of Newfoundland weather. Reports from 400 years of Newfoundland and Labrador weather are interspersed with traditional weather lore, snippets of science, and dozens of fascinating photos. With a foreword by CBC’s Newfoundland and Labrador weather expert, Ryan Snodden.


Throw snow in the middle of the street

February 20, 1880

Archival Moment

Throw the snow in St. John's into the streets?

Merrymeeting Road, St. John’s, February 1921.

Great debates have been had in St. John’s about snow and what to do with snow.

There was a time in St. John’s, when residents were encouraged to throw snow from their sidewalks into the middle of the street.  Not only were they encouraged to do this, they were often ordered to do this. The St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram reported in February 1880:

“a policeman called on the various dwellings (in St. John’s)  and ordered that all snow lying before their doors should be thrown into the middle of the street.”

One resident of Cochrane Street, St. John’s was not very happy with this arrangement. In February 1880 he wrote to the St. John’s newspaper:

“In most instances the order of the policeman to throw snow in the middle of the street was complied, with the result of which is that today sleighs driving up and down Cochrane Street encroach on the sidewalks to the danger of pedestrians.”

It appears that those with horse and sleigh wanted to take the path of least resistance and rather than take to the center of the road (now covered with mounds of snow) were more inclined to take the cleared sidewalks.

The frustrated resident of Cochrane Street wrote:

 “If the magistrates have ordered the snow to be cleared from the sidewalks, it would be only right that they should cause all sleighs to keep to the center of the road.”

The policemen and the magistrates did begin to listen to the residents and actively pursued convicting carmen who were driving on the sidewalks.  Judge Daniel Woodley Prowse took no sympathy on those that went before him in his court with the charge of ‘driving on the sidewalks.’  Among the many that were convicted  were Patrick MacDonald of Portugal Cove Road  and Matthew Doyle of Freshwater Road who were before the good judge  in the court for “driving the quadrupeds (horses) on the sidewalk” were each fined  fifty cents and costs.

Judge Prowse was squarely on the side of the pedestrians as having rights above all other traffic!

Oh, how times have changed!

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives Division read the old newspaper accounts that give great insight into the events of the past.  http://www.therooms.ca/archives/

Recommended Web Site: City of St. John’s Snow Clearing: http://www.stjohns.ca/living-st-johns/streets-traffic-and-parking/snow-clearing

Recommended to Read:  One for the History Books: The Winter of 2000–01 in St. John’s, Newfoundland by Bruce Whiffen. http://www.easternsnow.org/proceedings/2002/021_Whiffen.pdf

Definition:  Carman, a driver of a horse-drawn vehicle used for transporting goods.

(If you know the street location and or the approximate date of this photograph please contact me.)