Tag Archives: SPCA

Horses, turned into the roads and woods to die of frost and starvation”

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: NA19658: Horses grazing ina field

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: NA19658: Horses grazing ina field

Archival Moment

November 29,1893

In November 1893 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in the local St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram published an article “enlisting the services of supporters throughout the colony.”

The article read:  “The SPCA desires to enlist the services of its supporters throughout the colony in detecting and punishing cruelty, and, at this season, the practice of exposing old horses and other animals.”   The article stated:  “Worn out horses are often turned into the roads and woods to die of frost and starvation.”

The Executive of the SPCA were keen to stop this cruel practice and insisted that “the crime should be effectually stamped out.”

The SPCA which was established in Newfoundland in November 1888 was originally formed to eradicate this practice and other cruel hardships that the horses had to endure such pulling excessively heavy loads.

The Executive of the SPCA wrote to the readers of the Evening Telegram that “Without the watchful assistance of the public, the efforts of our agents must be of little effect.”

Since their founding in 1888 the SPCA had encouraged laws “wide enough to cover all cases that may arise, and the magistrates never fall in their duty when such cases come before them.”   They proposed however that “While it is the duty of all Justices of the Peace to execute this law upon offenders, it is no less the duty of every citizen to prosecute cases coming to notice.”

In 1893 it was the hope that  “branches of our Society (should be) formed in every outport where a Justice is within reach.”

To assist with establishing societies  outside of St. John’s  “Either Mr. Greene, Q.C. (Hon. Treasurer) or Mr. Johnson, Q.C. (Hon. Secretary)  of the St. John’s Society  will be ready  at all times to assist in the formation of branch Societies an in instructing as to the method of prosecuting offenders.”

Recommended Archival Collection:  At The Rooms Provincial Archives: MG 593 is the SPCA Collection 1912 -1927. It consists of correspondence; complaint books, and investigation reports into complaints of cruelty.

Recommended Song: Tickle Cove Pond. Allan Doyle (Great Big Sea).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SNScBpa4lc

Recommended Web Site:  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – http://www.spcanl.com/

A St. John’s horse went into hysterics

Archival Moment

Motor cars begin to displace horses

September 9, 1914

There was much excitement in St. John’s on September 9, 1914 with crowds gathering, all scrambling to get the best view of the first annual work horse parade that was ever held in the city. The parade held under the auspices of the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and under the distinguished patronage of His Excellency the Governor and Lady Davidson took place and was described as “a decided success.”

Upwards of 130 horses were entered into the parade that looped past the post office along Water Street to McBride’s Hill, thence to Duckworth Street and up Cochrane Street to Government House grounds where the exhibition was held.

The parade was headed by the Salvation Army’s fine brass band that “presented a very attractive and novel sight, the horses being decorated with patriotic colours.”

For many the parade was seen as a distraction from the seriousness of the conversation about the ‘Great War’ that had been called a month earlier.

The local newspapers reported:

“Citizens from every point of vantage, viewed the procession as it wended its way to the exhibition grounds, (at Government House on Military Road) accompanied by an immense crowd of people who thronged the sidewalks and followed with admiration the long line of horses from different classes”

On the field at Government House the animals were taken to their allotted spaces and the judging was done by some of the leading citizens, the gentlemen and ladies of the town, including his Excellency and Lady Davidson, the Premier and Lady Morris.

Judges had to choose the best horses in a number of categories including; “Heavy Draft Horses”, won by “Ben” driven by J. Morrisey; the “Truck Horse” that had to driven and owned by truckmen was won by “Charlie ” owned by John Fowler;   “The Express and Delivery Horses” category was won by “Bruce”, owned by M. Fleming; “The Cab Horses”, category was won by “Stella” owned by   A. Symonds. There were also categories for farm horses, ponies and an old horse category.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) that was established in Newfoundland in November 1888 was always seeking new ways of bring attention to their cause.

Motor Car or Horse

The parade of horses was in September 1914 a success but because of the Great War (1914-1918) what may have been a grand tradition was interrupted after only one year.

The parade also stands as a symbolic divide between the old and the new. It was in 1914 that motor cars or automobiles began to take the place of the horse. The shift from horse to motor car was so evident in St. John’s that the Editor of the Twillingate Sun in July 1914 felt obliged to write an editorial about the phenomena.

The Editor noted that the first motor car had arrived in Twillingate owned by Mr. Ashbourne’s had brought with it:

“considerable criticism, and naturally there are some old folk who can see no use in such contraptions as automobiles. There are also the owners of horses who, unused to such things, easily see in an automobile a terrifying sight.”

The Twillingate man cautioned in 1914 that it was inevitable that the horse would be displaced by the motor car. He wrote:

“Now although horse owners, (with the exception of Mr. POND, whose horse Dick, regards automobiles with contempt and indifference,) have their kick, they are not the first. A St. John’s horse went into hysterics when the streetcars first started, and no doubt the cars were valiantly cussed by the drivers, but the horses got used to them, and ours will do the same. …..”

Recommended Archives: Search the Rooms Archives online database for descriptions of our archival records and to view thousands of digital photographs. Click the image to begin your search.  https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections Try this in the search bar type Horse.

Recommended: Support the work of the Newfoundland Pony Society: Read more: https://newfoundlandpony.com/

Recommended Web Site: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: http://www.spcanl.com/

Women of St. John’s, defend their goats

Archival Moment

July 25, 1914

Photo Credit: The Rooms NA 24116; Teenage boy milking a goat.

Photo Credit: The Rooms NA 24116; Teenage boy milking a goat.

There was a time in Newfoundland and Labrador when most families could lay claim to owning a few farm animals, most families had a horse, a cow, a few goats and hens. They were in most cases essential to the economic survival of the family. In St. John’s, farm animals in an emerging urban environment, in July 1914, were often the source of considerable conflict.

Animals wandering about the town were such a source of tension that the city had on staff an “Impounder”.  The job title would now be animal control.

John Anderson, one of the new City Councilors appointed in 1914, was not impressed that goats were constantly in the small park near the East End Fire Hall destroying trees. He decided to start doing a little investigating. “Where is the impounder, who is he and how much salary does he get? The newly appointed Councillor asked.

Anderson was soon to discover that the “Impounder”   was paid a very respectable $36.50 per month but more interestingly was also entitled to a few bonuses. Anderson discovered that the ‘Impounder’ got an additional $2 for every horse or cow that he impounded but only 50c for a goat.

Anderson concluded because less commission was paid for catching goats “the impounder was directing his attention to the horses and cows that gave him a better income there by allowing goats to roam the city unmolested and destroy what property they liked.

Anderson decided to have a few conversations with the impounder to discover that there were a couple of more issues to consider.   He reported that “he had learned on various occasions from the impounder that it was almost an impossibility to catch a goat” The goats that wandered about the town munching on the grass in the parks and on private property were quick and agile. It was much easier to catch a horse or cow.

The impounder also reported that another problem that he encountered were the women of St. John’s. The impounder reported ‘when he did succeed in catching a goat, one the women of the neighbourhood would attack him and that in all cases he would have to surrender the goat to the woman.’

Women were quite determined to defend their goats. It was these goats that were often the source of the families’ milk and cheese.

The Council has little sympathy of the impounder, Anderson suggested he was “making a bonanza of it” and that in the future he would have to give a more strict accounting as to how many animals he had impounded.

The disdain and dislike that some had for goats that wandered about the city damaging property especially private property was palpable. In 1855 Thomas MacDonald was dragged before the courts for shooting the goat of his neighbor, James Cochrane. In 1880 William & Albert Hann sued their neighbor Charles D. Chambers for damages done to their property. They later killed the goat.

 Did you know that according to St. John’s Animal Control bylaw (#1514), that you are permitted to have your own goats (ducks and chickens), they all fall under the same bylaw as your friendly neighborhood dog and cat.

Did you know that “animal shelters” evolved from “pounds” , which were used in colonial towns to round up and hold wandering livestock that could be redeemed from the “impounder” for a fee. Because an economic value was placed on these animals, (horses, cows, goats) they were often reclaimed. When the system began to be used to impound wandering dogs and cats, these animals were often killed because little monetary value was placed on them.

Recommended Archival Collection: [Fonds GN 170] Newfoundland and Labrador court records collection. You will find some amusing and not so amusing antics of goats and their flustered neighbours.

Recommended: Support the work of the SPCA. The vision of the SPCA is to prevent animal cruelty; educate about humane treatment of animals; provide shelter and love to abandoned and abused animals; and encourage adoption to suitable homes. Read More: http://spcastjohns.org/index.php

Goats in Song. Have you heard about the the goat in the town of Mobile on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland. Sing along: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APJgbBS-840