Tag Archives: St. John’s

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

 

Opera House in St. John’s

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 26, 1888

Advertisement: The Telegram, St. John’s, July 23, 1888.

There was much excitement in St.  John’s on Thursday, July 26, 1888   with the official opening of a “City Opera House.”

Throughout the week the local newspapers were advertising the highly anticipated opening with bold headlines that proclaimed   “A Grand Artistic Opening.”  The advertisements encouraged residents of St. John’s

“to reserve their tickets during the day, at J.W. Foran’s  Confectionary Store, Atlantic Hotel Building to avoid the crush at the Ticket office.”

The Tickets did not come cheap!!

Admission for Reserved Seats (Dress Circle) 75 cents; Orchestra Chairs, 50 cents; Gallery Chairs, 30 cents; Parquette, 20 Cents  and  the luxury  of a box seat a whopping $6.00.

The proprietor of the Opera House was the St. John’s businessman J.W. Foran who was well established at the J.W. Foran Confectionary Store in the Atlantic Hotel Building.  In his advertisements he stated:

“The proprietor of the city opera house (Mr. J. W. Foran) seeing the great want of a place of musical and dramatic talent, of which the rising generation have not had the advantage of hearing or seeing, has suited the opera house with all modern improvements, suitable for the production of entertainments of the very highest order – thus giving the people o St. John’s an opportunity of hearing some of the best musical talent in America. The establishment of such a space means a very large outlay, and it is to be hoped that the public will give it that substantial support which will warrant its permanency. The season will commence with the famous San Francisco Minstrels”

This talented group from San Francisco was under the management of Charles L. Howard. Engaged for a limited season only, the cost of transportation alone was nearly one thousand dollars. Before each performance, a Grand Balcony Serenade was to be given by the Silver Cornet Band.

Reviews of the performances during the following week stated that the

“minstrel’s are nightly drawing large and respectable audiences. They have advanced considerably in the estimation of our people since their first appearance which did not give the satisfaction anticipated and are steadily increasing in popularity.”

This was the first Opera House in St. John’s, but was not the first opera.

The first opera performed in Newfoundland, Thomas Linley’s The Duenna; or the Double Elopement, was presented in May 20, 1820 as a benefit for the victims of the great fire of 1817.   The Duenna is a three-act comic opera, was considered one of the most successful operas ever staged in England. Lord George Byron called it “the best opera ever written”).

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to look at MG 343.1  the script for Patience: a new & original aesthetic  an opera  written by W.S. Gilbert, Composed by Arthur Sullivan , 12 Apr. 1883. Item consists of Opera that was “given in aid of the poor by a number of amateur ladies and gentlemen at the Star of the Sea Hall, St. John’s”.

Recommended Virtual Exhibit:  How did a young girl from  an outport community on the  northeast coast of  Newfoundland gain  international recognition on  the stages of the world?  http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?lg=English&ex=00000469&fl=0&id=exhibit_home

 

 

 

The Great Fire of 1892.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 8, 1892   

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: B4-49; St. John’s East in ruins folloing the Great Fire. (note the Basilica in the background)

Late in the afternoon of 8 July 1892, a small fire broke out in a St. John’s stable on Freshwater Road after a lit pipe or match fell into a bundle of hay. Although containable at first, the flames quickly spread due to dry weather conditions.  Within hours, the fire had destroyed almost all of St. John’s.

The fire burned into the night and did not end until about 5:30 the following morning.  Many people camped out in Bannerman Park or on property surrounding the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica), which was one of the few buildings the fire did not destroy.

As the sun rose on 9 July, more than two-thirds of St. John’s lay in ruins and 12,000 people were homeless; many had lost everything they owned, except the clothes they were wearing.

One of the accounts written about the fire was penned by W.J. Kent   who wrote:

“All the arteries which led from the water to the higher portions of the town were crowded with the terrorised mob and the screams and cries of the women mingled with the wailing of children, the shouts intensified by the ever-freshening masses of livid fire and the glare of the burning buildings, contributed to make a scene the like of which it is not often given to the lot of many to witness…. Few there were who closed their eyes that night.”

Four persons were burned to death.  The devastation that struck the city was recorded by one of the priests on staff at the R.C. Cathedral (the Basilica) who wrote on Sunday July 10, 1892”

 “There was no publications today in consequence of the great calamity that has happened in our city on Friday evening and night, when the best part of St. John’s east was entirely destroyed by fire which caused such a panic that everyone is excited and frightened and nearly 12, 000 persons are left homeless, over 2000 houses were burned besides stores, wharfs…”

At the Last Mass, Father Scott preached a very touching sermon about the fire and those who were its sufferers from its effects.  Four persons were burned to death, namely:

Mrs. Catherine Stevens    }lived on Meeting House Hill

Her daughter Louisa Stevens

And the servant girl – name not known

Also Miss Catherine Molloy, Bulley’s Lane, and elderly girl not married

RIP

 

The Great Fire of 1892

Rev. Moses Harvey at  St. Andrews Free Presbyterian Church on the day following the fire walked about the city, he presents a similar description of the devastation and plight of the victims of the fire.

“The next morning I took a walk around the awful scene of devastation. It was heart-rending. Nothing visible for a mile from Devon Row but chimneys and fallen and tottering walls. The thick smoke, from the smouldering ruins still filled the air… The wrecks of the fanes of religion stood out, then [sic] broken walls pointing heavenward, as if in mournful protest against the desecration that had been wrought.

And the poor inhabitants, where were they? It made the heart ache to see the groups of men, women and children, with weary, blood-shot eyes and smoke begrimed faces, standing over their scraps of furniture and clothing — some of them asleep on the ground from utter exhaustion — all with despondency depicted on their faces. They filled the park and grounds around the city. Many hundreds escaped with nothing but the clothes they wore… .”

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type “Great Fire” in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives