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

 

“When the able and the young go away to work…”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

 May 23, 1869

The Rooms Provincial Archives Division, VA 14-146 / G. Anderson

On  (May 23, 1869) Edward Morris of St. John’s wrote in his diary  about all of the activity at the dockside in St. John’s . He observed “about 500 men” getting ready to leave Newfoundland  in search for work.  He wrote in his diary:

“Yesterday the “Merlin” Steamer left Shea’s Wharf for Nova Scotia with upwards of 500 men to work on the inter colonial railway. The saddest evidence of the depressed state of this colony (Newfoundland) that has as yet been presented.  When the able and the young go away to work upon the roads in the other provinces in preference to remaining to prosecute the fisheries it speaks little for the inducements of the fisherman’s occupation.”

 The jobs that the 500 Newfoundlanders were seeking by taking the Steamer ‘Merlin  from St. John’s to Nova Scotia were jobs on the inter colonial railway, under construction,  linking the Maritime colonies and Canada. Completion of the railway was made a condition of Confederation in 1867.

The out migration, that Edward Morris witnessed, by his fellow Newfoundlanders is a constant theme in Newfoundland history.  The people of Newfoundlandand moved to other countries for a wide range of reasons throughout the 1800’s, emigration occurred on the largest scale during the last two decades of the century when the cod fishery fell into severe decline and caused widespread economic hardship.

While some people left their homes permanently, others worked in foreign countries on a seasonal or temporary basis before returning home. Most emigrants moved to Canada or the United States. The vast majority to “the Boston States.”

In more recent years Newfoundland and Labrador has witnessed (1996 and 2001) about 47,100 people pulling up stakes and leaving the province. The Conference Board of Canada’s most recent long-term forecast predicts the province’s population will fall from about 527,000 now to 482,000 by 2035.

Despite baby bonus incentives and other government efforts since 2008, the population is expected to shrink more here over the next two decades than any other part of Canada. An aging demographic will be compounded by out-migration of workers — especially if offshore oil production wanes.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type emigration 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

Recommended Reading: Newfoundland: Journey Into a Lost Nation by Michael Crummey and Greg Locke. McClelland & Stewart. Chronicles the passage of a time when cod were still plentiful and the fishery shaped the lives of most of the island’s inhabitants, to the present, when an economy, propelled by oil and mineral development, is recasting the island’s identity in a new mould.

Recommended Website: Statistics Canada – http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/subject-sujet/theme-theme.action?pid=3867&lang=eng&more=0

 

 

Is there a Stradivari in St. John’s?

Archival Moment

MARCH 19, 1892

ViolinThere was much discussion in the music community in St. John’s on March 19, 1892, conversation driven by a news item in the St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram, about the possibility of an authentic Cremona violin, dated 1681 in the city.  This was no ordinary violin this was reputed to have been created by the master genius of violin-makers, the maestro of Cremona, Antonius Stradivari.

Antonio Stradivari (1644 -1737) set up his shop in Cremona, Italy, where he painstakingly handmade made violins and other stringed instruments. He took a basic concept for the violin and refined its geometry and design to produce an instrument which is now the standard. Stradivari’s violins have been judged by history to be the best.

The owner of the alleged ‘strad’ in St. John’s was “Mr. P. Roche, a storekeeper of this city”. Roche was according to the St. John’s Business Directory for 1890; a storekeeper working for the business; J and W Pitts located on at 24 South West (Water) Street. He had done some preliminary work on investigating the provenance of his violin. The Telegram reported:

“The word (the name of the maker) and the figures (year)  are inscribed on the inside of the back (of the violin) and may be seen by looking through the scroll worked holes in the front of the instrument.”

The article went on to read:

“There are five known famous violins by a celebrated maker from that city, (Cremona) each of them worth hundreds of guineas. One has been in New York, one in Munich, and one in London; three are still missing.  There are very many less famous Cremona violin, whether Mr. Roche’s belongs to the most celebrated class, he is taking steps to find out. It was purchased many years ago by his brother in Halifax.”

What happened to the violin?  We really do not know – perhaps it remains with the descendants of Mr. Roche who may not be aware of the fine instrument that they have!!

Today, a conservative estimate on the value of the violin, if it were authentic, would range from $1 to $5 million.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives: MG 591 Kiwanis Music Festival programmes, 1951-1976; Music Festival Association of Newfoundland booklets re: regulations, schedule etc., 1966-1976.

Recommended Reading: Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work (1644-1737) W. Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill & Alfred E. Hill  Originally Published in 1902

Support the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra:  Read More:  http://www.nso-music.com/