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Historical Information

Conception Bay North

Reproduced from The Daily News July 1965
Contributed by Carol Walsh

Talented Lady Resides in Historic Home

Nestled between the hills of French’s Cove on the outskirts of Bay Roberts is a small cluster of houses overlooking the sea in Bay Roberts. One of the largest houses is a square, two storey home built over one hundred years ago. While the house has been renovated from time to time, the original framework (built of sout beams) holds the house solidly together.

Its inhabitant is a slight 74 year old woman, a former school teacher, singer, poetess and painter, who will site at the organ in her parloour and play and sing hymns when she feels lonely or sad. Her name is Miss Clara Badcock.

Her home is full of hisotry. Her back garden overlooks the sea and on a day when the wind blows cold and blustery from the north, it’s better to stay indoors. Her grandfather’s grandfather and other members of the family are buried less than fifty fee from her back door and three headstones are still standing although leaning at crazy angles.

To enter Miss Badcock’s home is to be invited to a cup of tea and cookies, particularly if the wind is nippy and the visitor looks cold. The tea is served from a lustre teapot fro Miss Badcock firmly believes that even lustre teapots were made to be used.

Miss Badcock comes from the staunch old Methodist stock and when she was younger she taught school. In her later years, she worked in the United Church Orphanage and, still later, with Mrs. Fred Emerson. She writes poetry still and does a considerable amount of painting and has received honourable mention for her paintings in the government sponsored Arts and Letters competition.When Mr. and Mrs. Emerson moved to Nova Scotia seven years ago, Miss Badcock went with them but was no sooner away from her homeland when she felt the irresistible urge to return to the old homestead although she had no one living there. She returned and has been living there alone for the past several years with the occasional visit to St. John’s to see old friends.

But she is not too lonely, the inhabitants of French’s Cove are neighbourly and they keep an eye on her, watch for smoke from her chimney or for her lights in the evening. If she is late rising and there’s no smoke from her chimney at the usual hour, someone is promptly on her doorstep to see is everything is alright.

The old women frequently drop in on Mis Badcock and enjoy singing hymns with her nor is this practice strictly for the old people, children frequently invite themselves into her home to sing hymns while she plays for them.

The Badcock’s are among the oldest settlers in French’s Cove and Clara Badcock’s grandfather, Josiah Badcock, was the top hero who kept his head in the Huntsman disaster and saved the Rescue from a similar fate.

It was late for seal hunting that spring of 1772 in the Straits of Belle Isle and on April 28, a gale of wind and heavy seas forced the sealing ships into the ice for shelter. The Rescue was following in the wake of the Huntsman and all thought they were a good safe distance from the shore. However, there was a strong tide running along the shore and while the ships were on the outter edge of the ice, they had to go with it. It was dark when the Huntsman, driving along with the ice and the tide, crashed head on into Fish Rock, a narrow reef or rock, four or fives miles from the mainland.

Josiah Badcock, on the deck of the Rescue minutes behind the Huntsman, saw the crash. In the confusion that followed, he could see that the Rescue was also heading for Fish Rock unless her course could be altered. He shouted “Back the main yards fore and aft,” and with five other crew members backed the ropes. It saved the Rescue and she veered enough to barely clear Fish Rock. Josiah Badcock then went up in the barrel and shouted so that survivors might hear and eighteen of them crawled over the ice to the Rescue, many with broken limbs.

Miss Babcock’s grandfather lived to the ripe old age of 94 years and was the oldest citizen of French’s Cove when he died. He prosecuted the seal fishery for 58 springs and also prosecuted the codfishery, chiefly at Battle Harbour until he was 81 years of age.

Clara Badcock, living alone in French’s Cove, typifies the true character of the Newfoundland people – hardworking, independent and colourful.