Tag Archives: Tourism

Moose are not native to Newfoundland?

Archival Moment

April 28, 1886

Photo Credit:  The Rooms provincial Archives.  VA 15D-8.2; Hunter straddling a moose carcass, with guide Jim John looking on

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. VA 15D-8.2; Hunter straddling a moose carcass, with guide Jim John looking on.

There was much excitement in St. John’s during the last week of April 1886; residents had an opportunity to see a “fair specimen of a bull moose’s head, with antlers” at the ‘Athenaeum’ the local theatre.

Today, a moose would not garner much attention, but in 1886, moose were still unknown in Newfoundland. Moose are not native to the province, moose were imported.

The person who is given credit for the idea of introducing moose into Newfoundland was Captain Richard Lewis Dashwood, a British Military officer and avid fisherman and hunter. Captain Dashwood while on military tour of Canada (1862-1872) visited Newfoundland in 1860. Upon returning to England he published his book Chiploquorgan, or, Life by the Camp Fire in the Dominion of Canada and Newfoundland.  He wrote about Newfoundland:

“How I wished that there were moose in Newfoundland! What a place it would be to call on the lakes by our camp. As the moose are now becoming so scarce on the mainland, it would be an excellent plan and one worthy of the consideration of the Newfoundland Government, to turn up moose in the island. They would not migrate like the caribou, but remain in the depths of the forest, far out of the reach of the settlers living on the coast. In a few years they would become numerous, and there is plenty of good feeding ground in the woody parts of the interior of Newfoundland.”

In 1878 just six years after the publication of his book, the government determined to attract ‘big game hunters’ introduced  the first bull and cow moose, imported from Nova Scotia. But there was no romance!! The two did not breed!

R. Langrische Mare of St. John’s  writing to the Editor of the Evening Telegram in April 1886 reported that he would make another attempt at introducing moose to Newfoundland. He wrote that he had:

  “secured, healthy, young animals, bull and cow.  They will come down from Nova Scotia as soon as a suitable chance offers, and will, I trust, if protected by the Government, will multiply in the Island.”

These two healthy young moose strolled into Newfoundland history, but there was no romance between them, no breeding.

The 150,000 moose (estimated) that are strutting about Newfoundland today are all descendants of four other moose that were introduced from New Brunswick in 1904.

The bull moose head and antlers that were on display in 1886 at the Athenaeum, that caused such a sensation, were following the exhibit, intended to be placed in the Museum.

Captain Dashwood, who in 1872 argued that  the moose would “remain in the depths of the (Newfoundland ) forest, far out of the reach of the settlers living on the coast was  so wrong!!

Recommended Archival Collection:  Newfoundland Tourist Development Board fonds. Description number GN 51. This Fonds consists of textual records created or contracted by the Newfoundland Tourist Development Board (1936-1949) and by its predecessor organization, the Newfoundland Tourist and Publicity Commission (1927-1936).  In particular read GN 51. 11 this  report by Lee Wulff submitted to the Newfoundland Tourist Development Board details  opportunities for sport fishing and hunting in Western Newfoundland and the Northern Peninsula.

Recommended Reading:  Moose Country by Darrin McGrath:  Darrin McGrath examines the history of moose on the island from the initial introduction to the economic and social importance of the mooee hunt to the current problems of poaching and coyote predation.

Recommended Song: Got to get my moose: Recorded by Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers: http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/02/moose.htm



Old Home Week, 1904


October 5, 1903

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division 1.502.050 A Regatta crowd on the north side slopes of Quidi Vidi Lake. One of the events held during Old Home Week, 1904

On  October 5, 1903 James J McAuliffe of Everett, Mass. U.S.A. wrote the Catholic bishop of St. John’s, Michael Francis Howley.

McAuliffe was born in St. John’s in 1848 and emigrated to Boston in 1866 to study at the Boston Art School.  As a young artist he established a reputation as a “marine water color artist” but also did some “fine religious pictures”.

In his letter he reminded the bishop that he had made a substantial contribution to the Cathedral (now Basilica) with his painting of ‘Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man) that he presented to the Cathedral and the people of St. John’sin 1899.  The large painting contained 75 life size figures showing Christ before Pilate and hung on the west aisle of the Cathedral.


McAuliffe who had never forgotten his Newfoundland roots was passionate about promoting the colony. He lectured on a regular basis in the “Boston States” at clubs frequented by Newfoundlanders.

During this time (1903-1905) it is estimated that there were 11,000 Newfoundlanders in the Boston States. Many frequented the Newfoundland social clubs in theBoston area that were founded for and by Newfoundlanders including:  the Cabot Club (1899),  the Boston Terra Novian Association  (1865),  Newfoundlanders Mutual Benefit Association  (NMBA) (1891), the United Sons of Terra Nova (1904) and the Avalon Society (1905).

In October 1903 McAuliffe was very active in promoting “Old Home Week” that was to take place the following year. He suggested that the Old Home Week would not only provide “a great source of revenue” for Newfoundland, but it would also promote a “spirit of patriotism” and be a means of “rolling back the clouds of misrepresentation and calumny indulged in by some of the representatives of the foreign press”. It would also, he argued, be a means of spreading tourist information about the country.

Old Home Week took place from  3-10 August 1904 and attracted some 600 ex-Newfoundland residents from the United States.


McAuliffe would have visited the Cathedral (now Basilica) with his friends from the “Boston States” to see his painting (Ecce Homo) that hung in the west aisle of the Cathedral. Today he would be most disappointed!!  His large painting is missing, likely removed for the renovations to the Basilica in 1954.

Only one of his paintings remains in the province described as a “fine painting”  it depicts  John Cabot’s entry in to the harbor of St. John’s. It was regarded as one of his masterpieces.” This painting is  now in a private collection in St. John’s.

James J. McAuliffe, the great promoter of Newfoundland died in his adopted Boston States in August 1921.

Recommended Tour: Immerse yourself in our culture at Newfoundland  and Labrador’s largest public cultural space.  It’s the place where it all comes together – our history, heritage and artistic  expression. The Rooms unites the Provincial Archives,  Art Gallery and Museum. A place for people,  The Rooms is a portal to the many stories our province has to tell.

Recommended Reading: Newfoundlanders in the Boston States:  Newfoundland Studies 6, 1 (1990)  see  http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/NFLDS/article/view/894