Category Archives: Archival Moments

July and the Weather Saint

Archival Moment

15 July 1881

July 15 Weather Watch

July 15 Weather Watch

St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain’

July month in Newfoundland was the month for the ‘excursionists’.  It was the month when most established organization’s would be in the process of planning excursions ‘around the bay’ for their members. The date on the calendar that the organizers for these excursions were watching was July 15.

July 15 in Newfoundland was traditionally known as St. Swithin’s Day, (or more properly, Swithun) a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin’s Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.

The residents of St. John’s, many of English ancestry were very familiar with the Elizabethan weather-rhyme:

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

The excursions were holiday outings by coastal vessels or train  to the Newfoundland outports, the most popular being Renews, Placentia and Trinity. Upon arrival in these villages the ‘townies’ would be greeted by the locals where they would be treated to a breakfast “after which the sports of the day would commence.”  Some of the ‘sports’ included horse  races, foot, hurdle and sack and wheelbarrow races, shooting matches and in the evenings dramatic entertainment and lantern shows .

Organizers for the excursions were disappointed to find on July 15, 1881 that it was a wet day.  The local St. John’s paper, The Evening Telegram reported.

“A wet St. Swithen’s Day. Oh, whatever trials are yet in store for excursionists this season.“

Organizers of the excursions were well aware that individuals would be less reluctant to reserve a spot on an excursion if inclement weather was anticipated.

Who was St. Swithin?

St. Swithin (or more properly, Swithun) was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches. A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors with the poor where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971.  According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

This led to the folklore tradition that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

How did the tradition get to Newfoundland?

Beginning in the early 17th century, immigrants from the West of England (mainly from Wessex) began to settle in Newfoundland. By the early 1800s they had founded numerous fishing villages and towns and comprised about 60 percent of the resident population. The Wessex component was the largest ethno-European group to settle Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of these immigrants (80-85%) originated in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset, with notable additions from the adjacent counties of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Cornwall.

Recommended Website: http://www.math.mun.ca/~wessex/wordpress/

Recommended Song:  Billy Bragg,  St. Swithin’s Day:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljJl-E5bzm4

 

Disturbing music on the streets of St. John’s

In 1903 the new and emerging form of entertainment was the gramophone.

In 1903 the new and emerging form of entertainment was the gramophone.

Archival Moment

July 10, 1903

Shop keepers have tried all manner of gimmicks to attract customers to their establishments, one of the marketing strategies used by the shops in downtown St. John’s in 1903 was loud music.

In the early 1900’s the new and emerging form of entertainment was the gramophone, created in 1887. In 1901, 10-inch disc records were introduced followed in 1903 by 12-inch records. These made the gramophone accessible to most families and businesses for their leisure. These  new records could play for more than three and four minutes respectively.

The St. John’s shop keepers would place their gramophone near the entrance of their stores causing customers to stop and listen, luring them into their shops or to their shop windows to look at their merchandise.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. Water Street, St. John's, A2-34:

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. Water Street, St. John’s, A2-34:

Not all residents of the town appreciated the new marketing ploy; one of the difficulties that it presented was that as customers stood on the sidewalks listening to the music they were blocking the sidewalks. Some residents felt that the police should be called to keep the streets clear!

The Editor of the Evening Telegram was among those who was not amused. He wrote:

“The policy of small shop keepers of using a gramophone to attract customers is becoming a decided nuisance. Crowds throng around the shop doors and the windows rendering the sidewalk impassable.”

The Editor offered a solution:

“If the police cannot keep the street clear, let them remove the cause (the gramaphone’s) which is the only other remedy.”

 It is unknown if the curmudgeonly Editor had much sway or if shoppers lost their enthusiasm for the novelty of the new technology, but it appears that no other complaints were made against the use of the gramophone.

Shopkeepers knew however that they were onto something. Over the past number of years there have been academic studies into the effects of background music in shops. The research indicates that music volume, speed and genre can have significant effects on how long consumers spend in shops and restaurants, how much they purchase or consume, and whether they view brands or individual products favorably or unfavorably.

Imagine, it all started with complaints about the gramophone.

AT THE ROOMS you can also listen to some great music.  WE PLAY FOR YOU. From fiddle to accordion, from harp to vocals, come and check out our amazing local talent as they fill The Rooms with music and song from our province’s rich musical heritage. You can sing along, tap your toes or just sit back and delight in the experience.  https://www.therooms.ca/ 

Recommended Archival Collection: City and Town Directories held in the archives give incredible insights into the business life of Newfoundland communities. A few of the directories that should be consulted when doing research are Hutchinson’s Directory of Newfoundland (1864); Lovell’s Directory for Newfoundland (1871); McAlpine’s Directory for Newfoundland (1871); and Rochfort’s Directory of Newfoundland (1877).

Recommended Museum Exhibit: At the Rooms: Here, We Made a Home The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4.

 

 

“The gravestones of the deceased are daily violated”

Archival Moment

July 4, 1848

Entrance to Belvedere Cemetery, St. John's.

Entrance to Belvedere Cemetery, St. John’s.

It was on July 4, 1848 that many of the citizens of the town of St. John’s were walking to the “outskirts of the town” to witness the blessing of new cemetery for the Roman Catholics.  Many attending the service were unhappy that their loved one’s would be interred so far out in the country.

Bishop John Thomas Mullock, the Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland wrote in his diary on July 4, 1848:

“Consecrated the cemetery at Belvedere … multitude present. High Mass afterwards in the Mortuary Chapel of All Saints.”

The leaders of all the churches in St. John’s had been given notice that the local government  was not happy with internments in the town of St. John’s and that they would have to seek burial ground further away from the livyers.

Up until 1849 all burials for all denominations were made in the town’s cemeteries. The Roman Catholic’s buried their dead in the Long’s Hill Cemetery located near what is now the site of the parking lot of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (The Kirk). The Church of England Cemetery was in the church yard of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist which borders on Duckworth Street, Church Hill, Cathedral Street and Gower Street.  The Wesleyan Cemetery was on the corner of Gower Street and Queen’s Road.

Discontent about the state of cemeteries within the boundary of the town of St. John’s began to surface shortly after the great fire of June 1846.

One of the effects of the Great Fire was reported in the Journal of the House of Assembly on July 14, 1846. The report stated:

 “Troops of starving dogs, infesting the town have become dangerous as well as to the living as to the dead; they have commenced desecrating the tombs of the cemetery …. And may be seen gnawing the bones of those who have been buried …. Pigs and goats infest in great numbers …. And the gravestones and monuments of the deceased are daily violated.”

One of the results of the Great Fire of 1846 was that all fencing and enclosures for farm animals had been destroyed by the fire allowing the farm animals including the goats and pigs to wonder about the town. Their favorite place to feed and graze was in the ‘downtown’ cemeteries.

On July 15, 1849 a Proclamation was issued by Governor, Sir J. Gaspard LeMarchant “forbidding any more burials within the city limits.”  The Governor was responding to the fears of town residents that epidemics such as cholera and typhus were resulting from the internment of the dead in the town. The argument was that as bodies of the newly interred decomposed in the town cemeteries, their diseases were seeping into the wells that were the source of the water supply for town.

Governor, Sir J, Gaspard LeMarchant argued:

 “as a very obvious method of improving the sanitary conditions of this town, I recommend having an act passed prohibiting  any internments in the limits of this town…. “

To get some indication as to how St. John’s has grown one only has to consider that the Belvedere property that our ancestors were walking to for the blessing of the cemetery in 1849  is now known as Belvedere Cemetery and is located between Bonaventure Avenue and Newtown Road.

It is no longer on the “outskirts of the town” no longer “in the country”.

There has been a long established tradition in  Newfoundland and Labrador  whereby families continue to attend to the cemetery plots of their loved one’s.   Typically a few days before the annual flower or liturgical service families  would gather to clean the  family plot.

2019 St. John’s and Area Cemetery Schedule

For flower services and or Liturgical Services.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery           Monday July 8th                 7:00pm

Mount Carmel Cemetery              Tuesday July 9th                 7:00pm

Kenmount Road Cemetery           Wednesday July 10th         7:00pm

Belvedere Cemetery                     Tuesday July 16 th            7:00pm

 Forest Road Cemetery                 Wednesday July 17th         7:30pm

St. Joseph’s Cemetery                   Thursday July 18th             7:00pm 
Petty Harbour

 General Protestant Cemetery     Monday July 22                7:00pm

Holy Sepulcher Cemetery             Tuesday July 23                  7:00pm

St. Kevin’s Cemetery                     Thursday July 25th         7:00pm
The Goulds

Recommended Archival Collection:  All of the churches have established archives that hold detailed records that will help you locate the grave site of a loved one buried in the cemeteries in this province

His broken-hearted mother …”

Archival Moment

July 1, 1916

Greene FWW CollectionIn the wake of the death and carnage of Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916 many mothers in Newfoundland and Labrador clung to the hope that their sons did not die but had been taken as Prisoners of War (POW). They were desperate to have any shred of evidence. Mothers, like Catherine Andrews of 249 Water Street, St. John’s wrote letters to government officials urging them to do all that they could to find their sons.  She had three sons that signed up to fight for ‘King and Country’.  The government typically responded:

Dear Madam,

For some time past the Imperial Government have been making enquiries in relation to those men of the First Newfoundland Regiment who have been reported missing since the action of the 1st July. I very much regret to state, however, that from the correspondence which has taken place …. it is evident that none of them are Prisoners of War in Germany, and the authorities are, therefore, reluctantly forced to the conclusion that all these gallant men [including] one of whom was very dear to you, were killed in that fateful action on the 1st of July.

I desire to express to you on behalf of the Government, as well as for myself, the sincerest sympathy in this time of sorrow. We feel the loss of our loved ones, but it will, no doubt, be some consolation to you to think that he – for whom you now mourn- willingly answered the call of King and Country, did his part nobly, and fell, facing the foe, in defence of the principles of Righteousness, Truth and Liberty. Though he has laid down the earthly weapons of warfare, he now wears the Soldier’s Crown of Victory and his name will be inscribed upon the Glorious Roll of Honor, and be held in fragrant memory by all his fellow countrymen.

When the victory is won, and Peace again reigns upon the earth, it will be a comforting thought to you that in this glorious achievement he bore no small part.

Like many in Newfoundland, this determined mother, Catherine Andrews, could not comprehend the staggering toll of Beaumont Hamel. Almost a year later, she contacted government officials, requesting that they publish a photograph of her son, in hopes that someone might recognize him:

 The letter, dated 21 May 1917, was addressed:

 “ To whom it may concern.   [I] don’t know if this is the correct address…. I am sending my darling son’s photo to you to see if it will be of any use to you as there are now hopes of being able to trace our missing men. You will see by the photo that he was posted as missing on July 1st 1916 and later I was sent official notice that he was believed killed in action, but there are many of us who believe they are alive. If you have any proof of my son’s death will you kindly send such to me, his broken-hearted mother.

 I have received some letters we sent him stamped with the two words: “Casualty verified”. Please explain how that can be possible and, if true, do please send me anything you may have in personal property or belongings of his… I shall be very thankful for any news of him or his affairs. I have one [soldier] son now at Wandsworth [Hospital] and another still in France with the Canadian Royal Engineers.

 Very respectfully,

Mrs. Catherine Andrews

When informed that no information was available about her son’s death, Mrs. Andrews wrote the governor:

To His Excellency Governor Davidson

Sir,

 As the mother of one of our fallen heroes I wish to see you on a very important matter. Will you kindly arrange for me to see you at the very earliest possible date and if that is not possible may I see Lady Davidson instead.

 The private secretary to the Governor contacted the Regimental Record Office; unfortunately, Joe Andrews, like so many other Newfoundland soldiers was missing, leaving no personal effects, no identification discs, no grave, no memory of his last words. Sometimes the families found out the circumstances of their son’s death several years later.

On July 1 take some time to visit our National War Memorial, St. John’s or the War Memorial in your home town. Remember, Catherine Andrews and the many other mothers who lost their sons.

Recommended Archival Collection: Search individual soldier’s files here:  https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/in-depth/military-service-files/introduction

 

Join us once again on July 1st for free admission in observation of Memorial Day at The Rooms.

12-3 pm: Meet descendants of veterans of the First World War in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery

12-5 pm: Visit the Archives to see our copy of The Newfoundland Book of Remembrance honouring victims from the First and Second World Wars 

12-5 pm: Bring in your family to make your own flowers of remembrance with the staff from Admiralty House Museum

1 pm: Instant Choir by Growing the Voices: Festival 500 Bring a non-perishable food item for the Community Food Sharing Association.

2:30 pm: Film Screening: They Shall Not Grow Old Join us for a special screening of “They Shall Not Grow Old”. Peter Jackson’s film shows original footage from the First World War in a brand new light with modern production techniques. $10 per person, 10% discount for Rooms Members.

 

 

A son remembers his father: July 1 is Memorial Day

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

February 20, 1922

TACAGoodbyeDaddy2On February 20, 1922 six year old Harvey White of Durrells Arm (Twillingate) wrote to Lieut. Col Thomas Nangle enclosing a small donation for the construction of the war memorial at Beaumont Hamel, France.

Lieut. Col Thomas Nangle had purchased from the farmers of France, on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland, the fields that we now know as Beaumont Hamel – the fields where many young men of Newfoundland had died during WWI. Nangle and the government of Newfoundland were determined to establish a War Memorial on the site.  A campaign was started that encouraged all Newfoundlanders to support the building of the memorial in any way they could.

Six year old Harvey White wrote:  

Dear Sir:
I ham only a lettel  Boy not quit seven yars old 
I  do go to school Every Day and I ham in no. one Book 
an I keep hed of the class Every Day
and I had one Dollar gave me four keeping hed of the Class so I ham sending  it  to you four Bhaumont hamel memorial 
that is the spot ware my Fathere was killed July the First 1916.
I  ham in closing one Dollar

Yours very truly
 Harvey White, 
Twillingate, Durrell Arm

“A WEDDING RING BY OCTOBER.” 

Harvey never did meet his father, Frederick (Fred) White, age 22, Regimental number 1481.

In a letter from Ayr, Scotland where Fred was stationed before being sent to fight in France, to the mother of the child (Mary Young)  he asked Mary if she would consider calling the child (that she was pregnant with) Roland with the promise of a “wedding ring by October.”  She did grant his wish – Roland Kitchner Young  was born on August 10, 1915. Everyone called him Harvey.

The young soldier and father never did see October – he never saw his son – he died at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916.

Little Harvey White’s   (he took his father’s surname) determination to support a memorial at Beaumont Hamel was typical of many who gave their last penny to insure that those sons of Newfoundland who had died during the war would have a memorial.

A field of honour in the battlefields of France where they died.

The Memorial site at Beaumont Hamel was officially opened on June 7, 1925  three years after little Harry White gave his one dollar donation.

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

Join us once again on July 1st for free admission in observation of Memorial Day at The Rooms.

12-3 pm: Meet descendants of veterans of the First World War in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery

12-5 pm: Visit the Archives to see our copy of The Newfoundland Book of Remembrance honouring victims from the First and Second World Wars

12-5 pm: Bring in your family to make your own flowers of remembrance with the staff from Admiralty House Museum

1 pm: Instant Choir by Growing the Voices: Festival 500 Bring a non-perishable food item for the Community Food Sharing Association.

2:30 pm: Film Screening: They Shall Not Grow Old Join us for a special screening of “They Shall Not Grow Old”. Peter Jackson’s film shows original footage from the First World War in a brand new light with modern production techniques. $10 per person, 10% discount for Rooms Members.

 

 

Lawlessness blamed on St. Mary’s Bay Rum

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 27, 1884

Lawyers Claim “ST. MARY’S RUM IS OF SO DELETERIOUS A CHARACTER”

On  June 27, 1884 an outrage against the population in St. Mary’s, St.  Mary’s Bay, Newfoundland  was considered so offensive that it made the newspaper headlines internationally. The North Otago Times, in New Zealand   featured this account of the event in St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Bay. The article reads:

“An outrage was perpetrated on Saturday, June 27, 1884 by the crew of the barque Lady Elibank. The crew broke into the Catholic church of St. Mary’s in St. Mary’s Bay, and demolished the furniture and appointments of the sanctuary, destroyed the tabernacle, abstracted the chalice, and other sacred vessels, smashed the candelabra, and strewed the debris about the streets, and in various ways desecrated the church. Five men were arrested.

As soon as the knowledge of this desecration of the church spread amongst the Catholic population, not less than 500 boats were manned for the purpose of firing and scuttling the vessel ; but the influence of the parish priest  and the supplying merchants prevented revenge.”

In Newfoundland, the local newspapers the “Newfoundlander” and “Evening Telegram” carried every detail of the story. 

The “Newfoundlander” on July 1st, 1884 described the event as:

“An act of monstrous desecration and sacrilege was committed at St. Mary’s. Five of the sailors – four of whom are Germans (later to be determined Norwegian) and one a Negro – broke into the Roman Catholic Chapel at a late hour of the night, knocked down the altar furniture, tore up one or more vestments, and even made away with the chalice. The perpetrators of the shocking outrage have all been arrested, …  it is the first act of scoundrelism of the kind that has taken place in this country. As yet, there are no further particulars than those given above, and it is assumed that drink has been the prime mover. “

 “ST. MARY’S RUM IS OF SO DELETERIOUS A CHARACTER”

The hint that St. Mary’s rum was involved gave rise to an unusual defense by Mr. George Emerson the lawyer for the sailors, said to the learned gentlemen:

St. Mary’s rum is of so deleterious a character that not my unfortunate clients, but the vendors of such poison, should be placed in the dock.”

He argued the sweeping charge should be made against the liquor sellers of St. Mary’s.

Judge Philip Little was not receptive to the argument.  He gave his instructions to the Grand Jury. The jury returned; Kenner was to be sentenced to two years, Gustafsen to one year and ten months, both with hard labour in the Penitentiary.

Recommended Archival Collection:    Read the many great stories that is our history in The Evening Telegram: [1879-1886]-1978 Microfilm and in the Newfoundlander  [1827-1835], 1837-[1846-1849, [1851]-[1855-1856]-[1858]-[1860]-[1863]-[1865]-[1868]-[1873]-[1877]-1884 microfilm

 

Bishop not happy with Confederation

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

 

How did Newfoundland vote?

How did Newfoundland vote?

It was no secret that Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche, the leader of the Catholic Church in St. John’s during the referendum debates in Newfoundland in 1948 was strongly opposed to Newfoundland joining Confederation.  He took every opportunity that he could to encourage “his people” to vote for Responsible Government.

The anti-confederate forces were divided between the Responsible Government League [RGL] and the Economic Union Party [EUP]. The RGL advocated a simple return to the status Newfoundland had held in 1933.  A group of younger anti-confederates formed the EUP, led by Chesley Crosbie, which promoted the idea of a special economic relationship with the United States.

In contrast, the Confederate Association under Joey Smallwood and Gordon Bradley was better funded, better organized, and had an effective island-wide network. They campaigned hard and with considerable skill and confidence.

On June 3, 1948 the results of the first referendum were released. Confederation received 64,066 votes, 41.1 percent of the total, Responsible government with 69,400 votes (44.6 percent) and Commission government was last, with 22,311 votes (14.3 percent).

A second referendum was set for 22 July 1948, with Commission dropped from the ballot.

Archbishop Roche was not a happy man.  He looked at the results of the first referendum only to find that areas of the province that had a significant Catholic population had voted for Confederation.  He was especially displeased with the people of  Marystown on the Burin peninsula who had voted for Confederation with Canada.  He laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the parish priest Reverend John Fleming.

On June 26, 1948 he wrote to the Reverend Fleming:

“Words are cheap; actions speak. In the recent referendum your people of Marystown – a majority of them – aligned themselves against the rest of the Diocese.  This was due largely either to your misguided leadership or to your masterly inactivity.”  200/F/2/1

Following  the 22 July 1948  the Confederation option won a small majority over the Responsible Government choice, Confederation winning by 78,323 votes or 52.34 per cent over 71,344 or 47.66 per cent over the latter. Voter turnout was 84.89 per cent of the registered electors.

The Responsible Government option carried in seven districts, all on the Avalon Peninsula, and the Confederate vote carried in the remaining districts.  The Confederates successfully picked up the vote previously given in the first referendum to the Commission of Government option. The same regional voting pattern evident in the first referendum was also present in the second referendum, with the Roman Catholic vote off the Avalon Peninsula having played a significant role in the Confederate vote.

Reverend John Fleming was not the only Catholic priest to advocate for Confederation. It is said that Joey Smallwood in 1964 on the death of  the Reverend William Collins who had served in many parishes in Placentia Bay attended the wake service of Reverend Collins. At the service it is alleged that Smallwood said:

“When I die and go to the pearly gates, I will greet St. Peter and I will ask if Father Collins is sitting on the heavenly throne ,  if this good Confederation supporter,  this priest has not been welcomed into the heavens, I too will refuse to enter.”

On March 31, 1949, Archbishop Roche would not have  been in  the mood to celebrate.   The act creating the new Canadian province of Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador) came into force just before midnight on March 31, 1949; ceremonies marking the occasion did not take place until April 1.

The British Parliament passed the necessary legislation on 23 March, and the Terms of Union came into effect “immediately before the expiration of the thirty-first day of March 1949” (Term 50).

With the death of Joey Smallwood in 1991 the Government of Newfoundland asked the Roman Catholic Basilica parish, where Archbishop Roche is buried in the crypt, if they would host the funeral for the former premier.  The Basilica parish agreed.  It was the first time that the two were in the same building.  The choir director (Sister Kathrine Bellamy, RSM ) said  to one of the choir members,  “Would you go down into the crypt and sit on Archbishop Roche’s coffin, for surely he is spinning in his grave that they have allowed Joey in his church.”

 

Recommended Exhibit: Future Possible: Art of Newfoundland and Labrador from 1949 to Present:   Taking place on the 70th anniversary of Confederation with Canada, this exhibition gathers close to 100 artworks, images and objects from across The Rooms art gallery, archives and museum collections to ask questions about how histories are told and re-told. The exhibition examines the period after Confederation in 1949, placing historical works in conversation with works by contemporary artists. The exhibition will be accompanied in Fall 2019 by a major publication that marks the first comprehensive art history of the province.

Recommended Website:  The 1948 Referendums:  http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/referendums.html

 

Why should the innocent suffer for the guilty: Prison Reform in Newfoundland?

HMP1June 19, 1890

Archival Moment

Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, (H.M.P.) St. John’s is one of the oldest stone structures in the province, and is one of the oldest, stand-alone stone prisons in Newfoundland and Labrador. It has held countless inmates since the first prisoner took to his cell in 1859.

Since that first prisoner, H. M. Penitentiary has been fodder for reformers and critics.

In June 1890 the House of Assembly of Newfoundland passed a piece of Legislation known as “An Act to provide for the Commutation of Sentences for good behavior and industry of Prisoners confined to the Penitentiary.”  Essentially the legislation allowed for the release of prisoners for good behavior before they completed their full sentence.

The new legislation was the talk of the town. Some were quite critical other reformers suggested that more could be done.

On June 19, 1890 one such reformer in a letter to the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram wrote:

“One of the greatest difficulties in the punishment of convicted persons in this country, (Newfoundland) lies in the fact that it is often impossible to punish the guilty without making the innocent suffer far more severely.”

The writer (he wrote under the pen name Reformer) was suggesting that once convicted and imprisoned the man is “inflicting beggary upon his family.”

The writer proposed a remedy. He wrote:

 “The only remedy for this appears to be that a variety of industries should be established in the penitentiary; that every person imprisoned should be obliged to labor at some industry; and that his earnings should be applied to the support of his family, where such support is needed. In this way, all law-breakers would be gradually deprived of public pity, the respect for the law would grow stronger in the whole community; and the law, being backed up by public opinion, would gain a stronger hold upon the conscience of every individual in the community.”

Insisting that every person imprisoned should be obliged to labor at some industry had the advantage he wrote “to give the prisoner a chance to learn a trade.” He continued:

 “In this way, too, every person imprisoned would learn some trade (more or less perfectly, according to the length of his term, and the nature of the industry); every such person would probably acquire habits of industry; and thus there would be greater security against a relapse into evil ways after discharge from the prison.”

Since it was founded in 1859 until the early 1900’s prison work crews could be seen about the city working on public buildings and there grounds. One industry or trade that was developed at the penitentiary was the trade of ‘broom making’ most of the brooms found in Newfoundland households were  at one time made by the prisoners of the penitentiary.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives: Statistics Showing the Number of Persons in the Penitentiary   [Fonds GN 170] Newfoundland and Labrador court records collection.

Recommended Reading: 2008 “Judging the Prisons of Newfoundland and Labrador: the Perspectives of Inmates and Ex-inmates”, in Poirier, S., Brown, G. and Carlson, T., in Decades of Darkness: Moving towards the Light. A Review of the Prison System in Newfoundland and Labrador, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, pp. 139-202.

 

 

Amelia Earhart Arrives in Trepassey

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 17, 1928 

Amelia Earhart, June 14, 1928, Trepassey, Newfoundland

As a passenger on the Friendship, (Fokker F7 airplane) Amelia Earhart, the first woman to hop the Atlantic, flew from Trepassey, Newfoundland, to Burry Port, Wales, on June 17, 1928.

The Friendship and crew successfully landed in Newfoundland on  June 5 only to encounter gales or fog for days that prohibited their takeoff for Europe.

Earhart Arrives in Trepassey, June 5, 1928

···· The Friendship circled Trepassey twice before putting down in the choppy water of the harbor after a flight of 4 hours, 24 minutes. As the big monoplane taxied slowly toward the small cluster of houses on the eastern shore that was the town of Trepassey, dories full of men whirling ropes (Amelia called them maritime cowboys), each evidently hoping to guide them in, surrounded the Friendship, …

The town magistrate, Fred Gill, and his two sons,  Burnham and Hubert, waiting near the monoplane in a dory, secured the honor of giving Amelia and Bill Stultz  (pilot) a ride to the dock. Slim Gordon  (mechanic) came later, after tending to the plane.

The children of Trepassey, who had been watching and waiting at the windows of the convent school facing the harbour, ran down to the shore en masse. Amelia “had a vision of many white pinafores and aprons on the dock,” and was under the impression that school had let out early so that the children could greet them. In fact the children had simply fled without permission for which they were made to stay late.  She went up and visited with the children later at the convent school; the nuns were scandalized by the sight of a woman in pants.

One of the Telegrams that was sent to Amelia Earhart in Trepassey from a friend George,  (Putnam)  knowing that Amelia had not packed a change of clothing wired:

“SUGGEST YOU GO INTO RETIREMENT TEMPORARILY WITH NUNS AND HAVE THEM WASH SHIRT ETC –STOP”

It was arranged that the three fliers would spend the night at a small frame two story house with attached general Store belonging to Richard (Richie Dick)  and Fanny Devereaux …. Mrs  Devereaux too at first sight of Amelia in her “breeks” and boots was “quite overcome, and felt her to be sure I was present in the flesh.”

The Deveraux children,  among them,  a young girl  who was to grow up to be  Sister Theophane Curtis of the Presentation Congregation,  the daughter of Fanny Deveraux from a previous marriage moved from their family home to live with relatives.

DEPARTURE FROM TREPASSEY  – June 17, 1928

The team left Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, in a Fokker F7 on June 17, 1928, and arrived at Burry Port,Wales approximately 21 hours later, a distance of more than 2,010 miles (3,235 kilometers), in 20 hours 49 minutes.

When the crew returned to the States, they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. From then on, flying was the fixture of Earhart’s life.

Earhart predicted that Trepassey would one day have an international airport.

On June 21, 1928 the prestigious New York Times newspaper following an interview with Amelia Earhart declared that Trepassey would be the site of a great international airport. The newspaper headline declared:

Miss Earhart Predicts Great Airport at Trepassey for Transocean Flights.” 

Earhart told the New York Times reporter:

“Trepassey ought to be someday, a great airport for transoceanic travel. It processes the finest harbor, perhaps the only harbor, adapted naturally for seaplane takeoffs in its part of the world.”

The experience in Trepassey might have been the inspiration for Earhart in the 1930’s  to design  a line of “functional” women’s clothing, including dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats, initially using her own sewing machine, dress form, and seamstress.  She photographed well and modeled her own designs for promotional spreads.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject?  Type  Aeroplane or Flight 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 Archival Collection:  The Rooms Provincial Archives holds a series of photographs (H5 – 32-35)  taken of Amelia Earhart prior to commencing the world’s “first transatlantic solo flight by a woman”. Earhart took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland  on 20 May 1932 and landed in Northern Ireland about 13 hours and 30 minutes later.

Recommended Reading: Earhart, Amelia. 1928. 20 Hrs., 40 min.: Our Flight in the Friendship. G.P. Putnam’s Sons:New York. (Reprinted in 2003 by National Geographic Adventure Classics:Washington.)

Recommended Website:  The official Website of Amelia Earhart:  http://www.ameliaearhart.com/

The first “talking pictures” in Newfoundland

Archival Moments

June 1, 1914

Advertisement: Evening Telegram (St. John's, N.L.)

Advertisement: Evening Telegram (St. John’s, N.L.)

There was much excitement in St. John’s on June 1, 1914 the talk in the town was all about the Casino Theatre on Henry Street, audiences at the old theatre were treated to a “talking picture” that united for the first time, sight and sound, through “talking” motion pictures.

The St. John’s, newspaper, The Evening Telegram declared that this new technology created by the American Inventor Thomas A. Edison, just one year previous, known as the ‘Edison Kinetophone’:

“has taken its place among the high class theatrical attractions now touring Canada and the United States, and is successfully competing with the largest of dramatic and musical organizations.”

Those attending the premier of the first talking pictures in Newfoundland were enthusiastic in their praise:

“it was with a general feeling that the kinetophone has scored …. the most novel success of this new mechanical form of entertainment.”

Audiences were delighted, the evening began with “the talking pictures being preceded by a film shown in the ordinary way with musical accompaniment … “. Typically, all theatres had pianos and or organs and the musician played along with the scenes as they appeared on the screen.

Following the silent film “the talkies (were) thrown on, music and voice, the clear natural tones of the actors as they appear in the different subjects is truly a marvel of genius.”

There were three presentations. In one of the subjects Sprigs from the Emerald Isle the dialogue songs and pipe music (were) so real so vivid in its presentation that the audience forgets the mechanical contrivance and last night broke into loud and prolonged applause.

The night also featured an interview with Baseball Manager John J. McGraw, manager of the New York Giants who won the National League pennant in 1913 and ended with with another talkie that scored a hit the “Four Blacksmiths” a vaudeville singing and talking act.

The reviewer for the Evening Telegram, declared that this new form of entertainment – these talking pictures would be a success. He wrote:

Every member of the audience last night spoke in most appreciative terms of the talking pictures in all their aspects the synchronization and marvelous record of human voice … it is safe to say that many of the pictures should be repeated before the company closes their engagement.”

The enthusiasm of the audiences in St. John’s was not shared by Thomas Edison the inventor. In 1913 he had produced thirteen talking pictures but by 1915 he had abandoned sound motion pictures.

It was discovered that because the sound portion was played on a phonograph that was separate from the projector, it was difficult to get the sound and the motion synchronized perfectly. Audiences found this annoying. Edison was an inventor, he was not a very creative film producer, many people thought his films were boring. Each lasted only six minutes, and portrayed scenes from famous plays or vaudeville acts.

The dissolution of the Motion Picture Patents Corp. in 1915 may also have contributed to Edison’s departure from sound films, since this act deprived him of patent protection for his motion picture inventions.

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