Tag Archives: St. John’s

Newfoundland Mustang the First

Archival Moment

April 17, 1964

Stanley Tucker with the first Mustang at Signal Hill.

Stanley Tucker with the first Mustang at Signal Hill.

There was a bit of excitement at George Parson’s Ford dealership in St. Johns on April 17, 1964, a crowd of people were at the dealership looking at a Wimbledon White convertible with the 260 cubic-inch V-8, it was the first time that any of them had seen a Mustang.

In the crowd was Stanley Tucker, an airline captain with Eastern Provincial Airlines (EPA)  based out of St. Johns.  Tucker, fell in love with the car and told George Parsons dealership agent Harry Philips  he wanted to buy that Mustang. Philips originally hesitated wanting to hold on to the car to get a little more publicity out of it. When Tucker came with a check in hand the next day, Parson’s sold the car to Captain Tucker.

Tucker at the time did not know it but  he had unknowingly purchased Mustang #1, the very first Mustang off the assembly line.  In an interview with Mustang Monthly Magazine years later Tucker said:

 “For a long time, I was the only Mustanger in Newfoundland. It was quite an experience. Many times, other motorists would force me to the side of the road and ask me about the car – what it was, who made it, how did I like it and how much did it cost? The car has been a real joy to own and drive. Getting into it is something like slipping into the cockpit, and I feel as much a part of the machine as I do when I’m flying.”

Not long after Tucker unknowingly purchased the now-historic car, representatives from Ford learned that their Canadian promotional vehicle, the first-ever Mustang, had been let loose. Ford wanted the car back, but Tucker wanted to drive it. Tucker drove the car about St. John’s for nearly two years, putting 10,633 miles on the odometer.

Meanwhile, Mustang sales blossomed. Before Mustang, Falcon held the Ford record of building a million vehicles in two years, 16 days. Mustang broke that record by reaching the million mark in one year, 11 months, and 24 days.

As Ford prepared for the millionth Mustang celebration, a Ford official made Captain Tucker an offer: In exchange for the first Mustang, Ford would trade the millionth Mustang. At the millionth Mustang celebration in Dearborn, Michigan on March 2, 1966, Tucker stood at the end of the assembly line with a Ford executive and accepted his new car.

While Tucker posed with the millionth Mustang, a white convertible, he didn’t actually receive that car. Tucker had earlier placed an order with George Parson’s Ford in St. Johns for a 1966 Silver Frost convertible with a black top.

Meanwhile, the white Mustang #1 with VIN 5F08F100001 once again became property of Ford Motor Company. The Mustang that only knew Newfoundland roads is now at home in the Henry Ford Museum.  In 1987, the car went on permanent display in the “Automobiles in American Life” exhibit, still sporting the 1965 Newfoundland and Labrador license plates.

Archival Hint:  Did you know that when trying to date a photograph  often one of the factors considered is the age of the cars that appear in the photographs.  Most archives have access to car experts  – antique dealers  – that help in the dating process.

Killer avalanche hits Tilt Cove

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 11, 1912

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. VA 85-55: Tilt Cove

On March 11, 1912 an avalanche struck the mining community of Tilt Cove on the Baie Verte Peninsula. The avalanche struck two houses built at the head of the cove at the foot of a steep slope, one belonging to Mr. Francis Williams, manager of the Cape Copper Company, and the other belonging to a Mr. William Cunningham, JP, the telegrapher and customs officer.

William Cunningham’s daughter, Vera, was interviewed in 1996 – she was 95 at the time but vividly remembered life in Tilt Cove, and in particular the afternoon of March 11 1912. She recalled that the previous night, following a day of freezing rain a snow storm raged and this continued through the day. Her father came in for tea and said, prophetically, “this would be a great night for snow-sliding“.

Next door the Williams family was sitting down to tea, when a large avalanche swept down the slope and struck the Williams and Cunningham houses. The avalanche just glanced Doctor Smith’s house, which escaped with minor damage.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: Smith Family Collection: A 24-98.

The Williams house was  the most severely damaged, with the lower floor collapsing as the rear wall was staved in. The Cunningham house was swept off its foundation and Emily Day the family servant thrown across the kitchen and buried. She had three year-old Edward Cunningham in her arms and protected him against the weight of the snow. Unfortunately she was buried, jammed against the hot kitchen stove, by the time she was dug out,  two hours later, she was very severely burnt. Edward was only slightly injured with minor burns.  Her loving embrace had saved his life.

Emily survived but was badly hurt; she was sent to hospital in St. John’s but died on July 18. A headstone erected in her memory in the Anglican Cemetery on Forest Road, St. John’s reads:

“Emily Day, aged 29 years who died July 18, 1912 from injuries  received  while saving the life of a child in the Tilt Cove Avalanche.  Greater Love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”

The rest of the family survived almost unscathed.

Mr. Williams and his 13-year-old son (James) were killed instantly. The St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram reported, “the little boy was found dead with bread still in his mouth“. Peter and Francis Sage the two servants in the Williams household were also killed. Mrs. Williams and her two daughters were rescued after three and a half hours of burial, without serious injury.

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms Provincial Archives  is home  to a number of photographs detailing life in the mining community of  Tilt Cove can be found as well as occasional mining reports on the state and prospects for  mining in Tilt Cove.

Recommended Web Sites: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/environment/avalanches.html

http://www.nr.gov.nl.ca/nr/mines/outreach/disasters/avalanches/march11_12.html

Recommended Reading:  Killer Snow, Avalanches in Newfoundland by David Liverman., Flanker Press,St. John’s, 2007.

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 first time that the “Ode to Newfoundland” was sung

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

January 21, 1902

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives MG 596 -110 sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives MG 596 -110 sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

On January 22, 1902, the local St. John’s newspaper, The Daily News, reported that on the previous evening at the Casino Theatre in St. John’s  that the      “Newfoundland “ now known as ‘The Ode To Newfoundland’ was sung for the very first time.  The new song was greeted enthusiastically.

The newspaper article reads:  “Miss Frances Daisy Foster rendered with exquisite feeling a new song entitled “Newfoundland.” It proved a pleasant surprise and the general appreciation of it was marked by the audience joining spontaneously in the chorus.”

The “Ode to Newfoundland” was composed by Governor, Sir Cavendish Boyle, the music for the Governor’s poem was arranged by Professor E.R. Krippner.

The Daily News reporter knew that he had heard something very special, he observed “he has given us a poem which may be chosen as the Colony’s own anthem.”

The words have since become etched in Newfoundlanders’ collective memory.

When Sunrays crown thy pine clad hills,

And Summer spreads her hand,

When silvern voices tune thy rills,

We love thee smiling land,

We love thee, we love thee

We love thee, smiling land.

When spreads thy cloak of shimm’ring white,

At Winter’s stern command,

Thro’ shortened day and starlit night,

We love thee, frozen land,

We love thee, we love thee,

We love thee, frozen land.

When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,

And wild waves lash thy strand,

thro’ sprindrift swirl and tempest roar,

we love thee, wind-swept land,

We love thee, we love thee,

We love thee, wind-swept land.

As loved our fathers, so we love,

Where once they stood we stand,

Their payer we raise to heav’n above,

God guard thee, Newfoundland,

God guard thee, God guard thee,

God guard thee, Newfoundland.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division take some time to look at  MG 956.110  this item consists of sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

Recommended (Academic) Reading: The Newfoundland Journal:  Volume 22, Number 1 (2007) Imagining Nation: Music and Identity in Pre-Confederation Newfoundland: Glenn Colton: Lakehead University. http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/nflds/article/view/10096/10349

Recommended (Children) Reading:  Ode to Newfoundland – Geoff Butler an illustrated book celebrating the land, seascapes, people, and traditions of Newfoundland.

Recommended Activity: Sing your heart out – sing along.   http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/01/anthem.htm

Kneeling and prayers in the streets

Archival Moment

2 November

Photo Credit: The Basilica Cathedral bells, St. John’s, NL

The parishioners of the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) in St. John’s were informed  at the end of every Sunday mass  in  November of 1902 that

“During the month of November the “De profundis bell” will be tolled at nine o’clock every evening for the Holy Souls.  All people who at the sound of the bell shall recite, on their knees (if possible) the Psalm De profundis with the verses and responses.

The De Profundis is found in scripture – Psalm 130.

Upon hearing the sound of the church bell wherever Catholics were at 9:00 p.m. they would fall to their knees and recite Psalm 130.

The Roman Catholics in the town of St. John’s  were also informed that:

“Those who do not know the De profundis  may say instead an Our Father  and Hail Mary  for the repose of  the faithful departed.”  (Source: Basilica Cathedral Publication Book, October 26, 1902.

And there was no escaping the toll of the Cathedral (now Basilica) bells. It is said that the bells could be heard as far away as Torbay.

The De profundis  bell was not the only one that was sounded.

A beautiful and pious custom which prevailed in many countries was the “passing bell,” which was rung slowly when a death was imminent in the parish. When the sick person was near his end the solemn tones of the bell reminded the faithful of their Christian duty of praying for his happy death and for his eternal repose; and after his spirit had departed, the bell tolled out his age — one short stroke for each year.

A bell that continues to be sounded in St. John’s  is the Angelus Bell.  The Angelus, consists essentially in the reciting of certain prayers at the sound of a bell at fixed hours. At the Basilica Cathedral the angelus bell is struck at noon each day.

By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to certain devotion. In November, it is the Holy Souls in Purgatory, described in Catholic theology asthose faithful Christians who have died and gone before us.” Praying for the dead, especially for those we have known, is a requirement of Christian charity.

New Word:  De profundis    (Latin) “out of the depths of misery or dejection” (from the first words of Psalm 130

Recommended Archival Collection: Search the online database at The Rooms for archival records and to view thousands of digital photographs. Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Song: Psalm 130

Basilica of St. John the Baptist declared a National Historic Site.

Archival Moment

August 10, 1984

Basilica of St. John the Baptist, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 1841

The Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s is the symbol of Roman Catholicism in Newfoundland. The structure is a testament to the faith and determination of the Irish-Catholic population of the province.

The project began under the leadership of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, who went through great pains to secure a grant of land to build the cathedral. After making five trips to England, Fleming acquired nine acres of land on which to build the church and related buildings. Work commenced with the fencing of the land in 1838, and on the May 21, 1841 the cornerstone was laid.

Sixteen years elapsed from the time excavation work began in 1839 until the cathedral was consecrated in 1855.

On August 10, 1984 the Basilica was designated a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Recommended Archival Collection: Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s. http://rcsj.org/archives-research

Recommended Museum: The Basilica Cathedral Museum and Library has one of the largest collections of church related artifacts in the country and is home to one of the oldest collections of books in the province.  Tours are available during the summer season.

Recommended Reading: Fire Upon the Earth, the Life and Times of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, O.S.F. by J.B. Darcy, Creative Publishers, St. John’s, 2003.

Recommended Website:  From Cornerstone to Consecration:  http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/basilique-basilica/en/index.html

List of National Historic Sites in Newfoundland and Labrador: http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/placestogo/nationalhistoricsites

 

 

 

The first letter from North America

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

August 3, 1527

The first letter from North America

Between 1857 and 1949 Newfoundland issued her own stamps. In all more than 300 different stamps were printed,.

Between 1857 and 1949 Newfoundland issued her own stamps. In all more than 300 different stamps were printed,.

It was at St. John’s, Newfoundland on 3 August 1527 that the first known letter was sent from North America. While in St. John’s, John Rut had written a letter to King Henry VIII on his findings and his planned voyage. The letter in part reads as follows:

Pleasing your Honourable Grace to heare of your servant John Rut with all his company here in good health thanks be to God.

The conclusion of the letter reads:

 “…the third day of August we entered into a good harbour called St. John and there we found Eleuen Saile of Normans and one Brittaine and two Portugal barks all a fishing and so we are ready to depart towards Cap de Bras that is 25 leagues ….  In the Haven of St. John the third day of August written in hast 1527, by your servant John Rut to his uttermost of his power.”

John Rut  was chosen by Henry VIII to command an expedition to America in  1527. With the ships Mary Guildford and the Samson, his goal was to find a passage to Asia around or through North America and to engage in trade when he had done so.

Henry VIII may have been a bit distracted when he got the letter, he was in the process of quietly trying to annul the marriage to his first wife  Catherine of Aragon.

Recommended Activity: Letters are fascinating and are the foundation of many family and community histories.  Take some time to look at some of the old letters that might be found in your home.  The ‘art” of writing a letter is quickly disappearing as we move to e mail and other social media as the main way to communicate.  Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Reading: Biography of John Rut:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=247&terms=de