Avalon South Region - Conception Bay South DistrictTranscribed from "Across The Tickle" by Sue O'Neill
HISTORY OF BELL ISLAND
ELECTION OF 1900On Feb. 19, 1900, the government of Sir James WINTER was defeated on a vote of non confidence in the House of Assembly. Three members of his party, Messrs. CALLAHAN, WOODFORD and ST. JOHN, had crossed the House, and when Robert BOND, on behalf of the Opposition, brought forward a non confidence motion, which was seconded by E.P. MORRIS, a number of Government members abstained from voting and the Government went down to defeat. Sir Jas. WINTER tendered his resignation on March 6 and Hon. R. BOND (who later became Sir Robert BOND) was invited to form a new ministry. The leader of the opposition was Hon. A.B. MORINE.
BOND went to the country that Fall to obtain a mandate from the people to confirm his tenure of office. Only three years had elapsed since the previous General Election, due to the upset of the Winter regime before its term of office had expired. Ever since the introduction of Responsible Government in 1855, elections had followed a four-year course, with one exception. That was in 1861 when Hon. John KENT, who had been elected head of the government in 1859, was dismissed by Governor BANNERMAN. In the general election which followed in that year, Sir Hugh HOYLES had been returned to power, but the general tenor of elections every four years had prevailed since then until the interruption of 1900.
The result of the Bond party’s bid for power is to well known to require amplification. The election gave an overwhelming majority 32 to 4 to Hon. Robert BOND, St. John’s East, in 1897, had elected J.P. FOX, T.J. MURPHY, FURLONG and DWYER were again the Liberal candidates in that general election of 1900.
They were opposed by Thos. M. WHITE, mechanic, who had unsuccessfully run against John DWYER the previous year; John F. RYAN, planter, and Robert J. PARSONS, solicitor.
The polling booths on Bell Island were the same as in the 1899 by-election, one at Lance Cove, one at the Front, one at the East Mines and one at the West Mines.
Nomination day was on Oct. 29 and Polling Day was Nov. 8. John DWYER headed the poll and carried his colleagues with him. The result of the count was as follows:
Mr. FURLONG was elected Speaker of the House when the Assembly was convened in 1901.
Resuming the Chronicle of local events in 1900, we find that the first steam shovel went into operation in August. Prior to that, ore cars had been loaded by hand. Michael NUGENT had his leg broken when the new shovel was being placed in position on Aug. 9. The ropes broke and part of the blocking gave away, pinning his leg.
An accident occurred at the pier on Aug. 11. The watchman, Alfred PIKE of Harbour Grace, was in the cage when it broke away and fell to the pier. He had both leg’s broken in the fall.
The new Presbyterian Hall in Kavanagh’s Lane was opened Aug. 16 and there was an excursion from St. John’s for the occasion, by train to Kelligrews and by launch to the Island, the round trip costing $1.
I.C. MORRIS was again on Bell Island in August. He crossed from Portugal Cove in the sailboat run by Matthew and William JACKMAN. The JACKMAN’s had been operating a mail and passenger boat across the Tickle for 60 years. The boat carried three sails. He crossed with 11 other passengers. The launch Wabana, owned by the Scotia Company was only used for their business.
Mr. MORRIS reported that the business places on the Island were being run by Newfoundlanders, Scotsmen and Syrians. There was a bakery under the management of Mr. BARTER, formerly of John B. was owned by J.B. MARTIN and was turning out 400 loaves a day.
The eastern pier formerly owned by the Nova Scotia Company, was now in the possession of the Dominion Company, who had constructed a new tramway leading to it (the west Tramway). Three quarters of a mile west of the original pier the Scotia Company had built a new pier and a new ore road to the mining area. Mr. MORRIS reported two such roads had been built since his visit in the previous year.
Curious to see the new pier, Mr. MORRIS walked along the main road (the first road built on the Island) until he came to the crossing of the Scotia Company’s new tramway (at Stewart’s Bridge). There he mounted one of the ore cars and rode down to the Scotia pier. Coming to the edge of the cliff, he walked down a series of stairways, seven in number, and counted a total of 309 steps on the way down, made up as follows: First flight 8 steps; second, 27; third, 77; fourth, 88; fifth, 15; sixth, 70; seventh, 24.
Reaching the pier, he found that sheds, forge and an engine room had been erected there. The engineer in charge was W.S. REYNOLDS. Mr. MORRIS returned to the top of the cliff by way of a long steep ladder which contained 200 rungs, and had to take man "a blow" in his climb.
That night he visited the store of J.B. MARTIN. Eight assistants were working there and were kept busy until a late hour.
A VISIT TO LANCE COVE
During his visit to Bell Island in 1900, I. C. MORRIS walked to Lance cove. Another settlement lay farther west, Freshwater, which consisted then of a dozen families, but Mr. MORRIS did not visit it until some years later. He was greatly impressed by the beauty of Lance Cove, nestling in the midst of cleared fields in a green, sheltered valley between the hills and commanding a striking view of the Bay, with Little Bell Isle in the middle distance and the Topsail shore beyond.
One of the residents he talked with was Stephen REES whose Grandfather was one of the first to settle at Lance Cove. He was an Englishman hailing from Bristol, the port from which John Cabot sailed on his historic voyage of discovery, and as engaged in shipbuilding in the early part of the last century.
Mr. MORRIS stated that about 60 ships were built at Bell Island in those years. They were mostly of 100 and 200 tons burthen and were built expressly for the foreign trade. The Island had an abundance of witch-hazel and other good timber suitable for the building of ships. These vessels were built at Lance Cove and the sites of the Old Shipyards were pointed out to Mr. MORRIS, one at the eastern side of Lance Cove and the other on the Western side. The western one was owned by Mr. KENNEDY and the eastern one by Mr. PITTS. There is also a record of a brickyard having been operated by the PITTS family in the year 1848.
The old PITTS homestead was still intact at the time of Mr. MORRIS’ visit and was occupied then by Miss PITTS.
Other old names in the settlement mentioned by Mr. MORRIS were REES, CLEMENTS, KENT and COOPER. He visited the Church of England cemetery and saw there a monument to the memory of the Island’s first Anglican clergyman, Rev. Wm WEAVER, and one to James COOPER. The latter name has died out at Lance Cove.
Mr. MORRIS reported that the people of the settlement were traveling to the local mainland principally by the topsail route. There was a daily ferry service form the beach to Portugal Cove and a tri-weekly service from Lance cove. The settlement had a Church of England Church (the oldest on Bell Island) and a small schoolhouse.
Turning to the events on the Island in the fall of 1900, we find that the famous Wabana Ball was scheduled to take place in the first week of October. The newspapers of the day did not carry any report of that social event, probably because it ended in a fracas. The new court house and residence for a constable was being erected in September on the road at the Front which has been known ever since as Court House Hill On the 13th the first Magistrate’s Court session was held on Bell Island by Dr. FREEBAIRN, J.P., in the R.C. Schoolhouse. Seven civil cases were heard at that first session and "Court" was held every Thursday thereafter. Const. J. FITZGERALD was stationed on the Island that fall as the first police officer.
The schooner Elizabeth of Tilt cove, SAUNDERS master, drove ashore at the beach on Sept. 12 after parting her anchor chains in a violent storm. She had arrived from Green Bay with a cargo of lumber but was forced to leave the pier and anchor off. The tug Favorite which was towing logs from Kelligrews to the island had a hard time of it and had to run for shelter at the head of the Bay. A big ore boat had to leave the pier and go to Holyrood, 42 vessels were reported ashore between the Straits of Bell Isle and Englee in that storm, which must have been of unusual severity. The schooner Elizabeth was in an upright position on the Beach with her keel deeply imbedded in the sand.
A concert was held at Lance Cove on Sept. 19 by Rev. Fr. McGRATH. Those taking part were Mesdames ALLEN and PARSONS, Misses E. PARSONS, K. WHITE, B. KENNEDY, A. MAHER, M. POWER, and Mr. C.M. WHITE.
It was reported that the Dominion Iron & Steel Co. had spent $8,750,000 at Sydney to date on construction of the steel plant, of which three million was in wages. The amount of ore in sight at Wabana then was said to be 34 million tons.
Wm. FRY of Portugal Cove was reported missing at Bell Island on Sept. 20. His lantern was found at the foot of a cliff but a search party failed to find any trace of him. It was brought out in the magisterial enquiry before Dr. FREEBAIRN that he was believed to have fallen over a 200 foot cliff while searching for a $5 bill he had lost.
The government voted $200 to add a new block to the public wharf. The first Diamond Drill was operating on the Island in September under superintendent David GLAVINE. It was working on a donkey engine and bored down hundreds of feet bringing up a core one inch in diameter. The Whitney seam was struck at a depth of 96 feet and showed eight feet ore.
A collection was taken up in St. Michael’s Church on Sept. 30 in aid of the Catholic orphanages in St. John’s. The sum of $74 was realized and divided equally between Belvedere and Mt. Cashel.
Johanna NORMORE died at the General Hospital on Oct. 10, aged 43. Gordon GRAHAM, who for six years had been accountant with the Scotia Company at Wabana, left for head office on Oct. 18, having been promoted traveler for the company.
Eli BROWN, aged 65, who was employed as a mason at the construction of the Court House, was struck from behind by a loaded car while walking along the ore track, knocked down, and his right leg broken in two places. He was conveyed to the cove and thence by wagon to the General Hospital. The incident caused much unfavorable comment as the patient did not reach the Hospital until 12 hours after the accident. Dr. SHEA operated the next morning and amputated the limb below the knee. Mr. BROWN, who belonged to Harbour Grace, was in hospital until January, 1901.
The first mention of the need for a hospital on the Island – a subject that had come up again and again over the years since then – occurred after that accident. The newspaper account spoke of "the urgent necessity of a hospital on the island where accidents of a severe nature could be attended to without having patients sent all the distance to St. John’s over a long stretch of land and water.
Rev. Mr. GODFREY, Methodist Minister on the island, held his first social on Nov. 17, and it was quite successful. Rev. S. GREENLESS, Presbyterian Minister, and his daughter were among those present.
Laying of the first telegraph cable across the Tickle was complete that Fall, and the first message was sent from Bell Island to the local mainland on Nov. 18. Prior to that, messages had been brought over by boat from Kelligrews by Wm. Tilley.
That brings us to the end of 1900, and although this article is longer than usual it should be mentioned by way of recapitulation that 1900 was a year of many notable "firsts" in local history.
Transcribed from "Across The Tickle"April 1999
January 1, 1999
P. Myles MURPHY, at Crown Point, Indiana, USA, at the age of 59, formerly of Bell Island. Predeceased by his father, Michael MURPHY. Leaving to mourn, his wife Rita (MOORE) two sons, Peter and Dan, two grandchildren, his mother, Mrs. Ellen MURPHY; brothers, Mike, Dennis, Pat and Leonard, sisters, Sandra and Margaret.
January 6, 1999
Thomas KAVANAGH at Cambridge, Ont., in his 92nd year. Formerly of Bell Island.
January 7, 1999
Vincent MURPHY, in his 88th year. Predeceased by his wife Mae in 1986. Leaving to mourn are son Jack, daughters, Janet, Madonna, Lucina and Janie, two sisters, Jean HUNT and Marg WHELAN.
January 14, 1999
Mrs. Phyllis M. FITZGERALD, (nee FOSTER) formerly of Bell Island, in her 85th year. Predeceased by her husband Fred in 1974 and her son Paul in 1983. Left with fond memories are her sons; Fred and Keith, daughters, Patricia, Janet, Sharon and Heather.
January 17, 1999
Mrs. Annabell KAVANAGH (nee BENNETT), in her 87th year. Predeceased by her husband Ronald in 1981, and her son Ronald (Jr.) in 1980. She leaves to mourn one son Gerald, 3 daughters, Lillian, Yvonne, and Evelyn.
January 22, 1999
Melissa HAWCO, in her 14th year. Left with loving memories are her parents Wayne and Elizabeth; five sisters, Sherry, Charleen, Nicole, Krista and Kayla; grandmothers: Margaret HAWCO and Elizabeth LAHEY.
The Right Rev. Bishop W.G. LEGGE, former Minister of the Anglican Parish on Bell Island from 1944 until the early 1950’s, at the age of 86. He is survived by his wife, Hyacinth, daughter Lorraine and son John.
February 2, 1999
Mrs. Elizabeth, Betty O’NEILL (nee KELLY) Predeceased by her son Dougie. Left to mourn her absence are her husband Douglas, sons Edward, Rennie, daughters Beverly, Patricia, Christine, Theresa, Mary, Michelle, goldie and all her grandchildren.
February 7, 1999
John Joseph WARREN, at Cambridge, Ont., in his 71st year. The eldest son of Leander and Margaret WARREN (nee DWYER) of Bell Island. Dear brother of Gwendoly, Peter, James, Clayton, Lawrence and Daniel.
February 8, 1999
James (Jimmy) CURNEW, in his 77th year. Leaving to mourn are his wife Evelyn, son James Jr. and daughter Becky.
February 12, 1999
Richard WALSH, in his 92hd year. Left with fond and loving memories are Frank, Richard, Edward, George, Brian, Bernetta, Mary, Betty and Patricia. One brother Syl WALSH in St. John’s
February 24, 1999
Sidney SNOW, at Cambridge, Ont., formerly of Bell Island, in his 58th year. Brother of Gerald, Edward, Mary, Margaret, Theresa, and Gertrude.
February 28, 1999
Mrs. Annie WISEMAN, in her 85th year. Left with fond and loving memories are husband Edward; four daughters, Eileen, Madonna, Edna and Regina, seven sons; Ronald, Peter, Anthony, Raymond, Keith, Kevin and Paul.
Patrick James MURPHY, at Cambridge, Ont., age 72, formerly of Bell Island. Leaving to mourn are his four daughters; Mary, Ann Marie, Carmel and Jacki. Brothers; Dennis, Mike, Edward (Pepper)and only sister Rita CALLAHAN.
March 3, 1999
John PEDDLE, in his 74th year. Predeceased by son John. Left with loving memories, wife Doris; daughter Linda, sons Gerald and Bob. Brothers; George, Don, Fred and Alex; 1 sister Gladys HUSSEY.
March 19, 1999
Mrs. Nellie O’NEILL, at Halifax, formerly of Bell Island. She was the daughter of James and Elizabeth McCARTHY. Predeceased by husband Cyril J. Surviving are daughters; Catherine and Sheila, sons ?[light copy] Bernard and John.
Kathleen LAWLOR (nee MOORE), of paradise, aged 88, formerly of Bell Island. Predeceased by husband Martin. Leaving to mourn two daughters; Mary and Patricia.
March 21, 1999
Edward (Dick) GORMAN, of Riverhead Hr. Grace, age 63, formerly of Bell Island. Predeceased by parents Edward and Irene GORMAN; brother Myles. Leaving to mourn one sister Betty.
March 25, 1999
Edward COLE, age 71 years. Leaving to mourn two daughters; Anna and Colleen. Six sons; Mike, Thomas, Gary, Billy, Paul and David.
Transcribed from "Across The Tickle" April 1999 1st Edition Vol. 7
HAPPY 50TH. WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
Ted and Matilda GUNN (nee Bickford)
Married Dec. 26, 1948 at St. Michael’s Parish on Bell Island, Nfld. Currently residing in Acton, Ont. Congratulations Mom and Dad. Best wishes and love from your children grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Wedding Anniversary Greetings go out to Mr. And Mrs. JACOB and Daisy PARSONS on their 50th on Feb. 22, 1999. Best wishes come from all your family and friends.
FROM THE SUBMARINE MINER FEB. 1955
We wish to acknowledge receipt of an interesting magazine published in the United States from former Bell Islander John J. HUNT of Dedham, Massachusetts. Mr. HUNT informed us in a letter received recently, that he and another former Bell Islander, Mike DOBBIN, well remembered as a football start during the nineteen twenties, plant to visit the island next summer and renew old acquaintances.
Anniversary greetings are extended to pensioner Robert and Mrs. NUGENT of Kelligrews, who were fifty five years married on Jan. 6th. Also pensioner George and Mrs. WARREN, on the occasion of their thirty-seventh wedding anniversary on Jan. 31st.
The following employees and their wives also celebrated wedding anniversaries during the month of January : Ben SEARLE, No. 6 Slope, thirty-eight on the 5th; John CUMMINGS, General Surface Department, twenty-fourth on the 6th, Ernest H. HIGGINS, No. 3 Slope, thirty-sixth on the 14th, John GALWAY, No. 4 Slope, forth-eight on the 9th, George PITTS, No. 3 Slope, thirty-fifth on the 16th, Herbert HARNEY, No. 6 Slope, thirty-eight on the 18th, George RIDEOUT, No. 6 Slope, thirty-eight on the 18th, Thomas REES, Electrical Department, twenty-eight on the 18th, George RIDEOUT, No. 6 Slope, thirty-third on the 21st, Llewellyn MERCER, No. 4 Slope, twenty-first on the 22nd, Roy REES, Safety Department, twentieth on the 31st, and Edward SEARLE, thirty-eight, on the 31st.
We extend sincere sympathy to Mr. E.J. MURPHY, on the death of his mother, Mrs. Helen MURPHY, who passed away at Sydney, N.S. on Jan. 24th, in her seventy fifth year. Also to pensioner Charles and John PEDDLE, on the death of Mrs. Mary PEDDLE, who passed away at St. John’s on Jan. 10th, in her 54th year.
The many friends of Bob BENNETT, Survey Department, who had been confined to his home by illness, during the past five months, will be glad to know that Bob has recovered his health and is now feeling fine. Bob returned to work on January 24th.
Felicitions[sic] to the following pensioners on the occasion of their birthdays in January: William HEALEY, 73 on the 1st, Ambrose DROVER, 68 on the 3rd, Chris SAUNDERS, 70 on the 15th, Charles J. NORMORE, 70 on the 19th, Richard PARSONS, 86 on the 22nds, James COLE, 71 on the 26th, Alfred WHITE, 81 on the 31st, James FOWLER, 76 on the 31st , and Miss Nellie FORWARD, former Matron at the Staff House, who also celebrated her birthday in January.
The Stork visited the homes of the following employees during the month of January and presented: to the Joe McDONALDS, a son on the 7th, to the Harry CRANES, a daughter on the 15th, to the Stan HICKEYS, a daughter on the 15th, to the Sam BICKFORDS, a son on the 17th, to the Aiden POWERS, a daughter on the 25th, to the William JACKMANS, a son on the 29th, and the George CANTWELLS, a son on the 30th.
The last shipment of coal which arrived from Sydney by the S.S. "Arthur Cross" in December is being moved from Dominion Pier to the Company’s Coal Yard by trucks. Approximately twenty-one thousand tons of coal is consumed annually on Bell Island.
Alexander LAHEY, No. 3 Slope who had been on the sick list since Christmas holidays, returned to work on January 31st.
William CANTWELL, Traffic Department, also received treatment in the Grace Hospital, St. John’s last month. He has now returned home and is feeling much better.
Phillip LAHEY, No. 4 Slope, entered hospital in St. John’s for an operation. A late report indicates that he is doing as well as can be expected.
Ten year old Patricia, daughter of Bernard LAHEY, No. 6 Slope, entered hospital in January for an appendectomy operation.
John SKINNER of the Medical Department also entered the Grace Hospital for an operation last month.
Robin, the eight year old son of Vincent KENT, No. 3 slope, entered hospital for treatment last month
Marie, daughter of Dick TAILLON, Chief Purchasing Agent also entered hospital for treatment last month.
Donald GOSSE, Mechanical Department, was also in hospital in January and has since returned home.
Frank PENDEGAST, No. 3 Slope visited St. John’s for surgical treatment in January.
Transcribed from "Across The Tickle" April 1999 Issue
John REID, Scotia Pier employee, was married on January 5th. We extend congratulations to John and his Bride and wish them happiness throughout the years that lie ahead.
Two employees of the Mechanical Depart have enrolled with the International Correspondence Schools for courses. They are Stan CONNORS, who is taking a course in diesel-gas-motor-vehicle engines; and Gordon ROSE, a course in reading blueprints.
ELEVEN EMPLOYEES RETIRE AFTER LENGTHY SERVICE
Thomas P. MURPHY, born September 27th 1882. Compressorman, 55 years service.
James RYAN, born June 24th, 1890. No. 6 Slope, 55 years service.
William G. PARSONS, born July 6th, 1887. Timber Foreman, 54 years service.
William F. PARSONS, born August 29th, 1889. No 3 Slope, 52 years service
Michael BURKE, born February 18th, 1881. No. 6 Slope, 52 years service.
William MURPHY, born October 27th, 1886. Compressorman, 50 years service
Michael McLEAN, born January 6th, 1886. No. 6 Slope, 50 years service
Jack SKANES, born February 21st, 1890. No. 4 Slope, 45 years service.
Nathaniel LODGE, born August 15th, 1889. Mechanical Department 45 years service.
William PURCELL, born March 3rd, 1889. Mechanical Department. 45 years service.
Arch ROSE, born December 10th, 1889. No. 6 Slope 43 years service.
HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED
Transcribed from "Across The Tickle" April 1999HAPPENINGS AROUND BELL ISLAND IN THE EARLY DAYS
COMMERCE AND CONSTRUCTION
Peter QUIGLEY was appointed a deputy surveyor of Crowns Lands on Dec. 26 1906
On Oct. 8 1907, W.K. MURPHY was appointed Postmaster at the Front. (The post office at the front was then located in the Court House).
An office was also set up in the mining area, with the BURKE brothers in charge.
In Nov. 1907, Weston HUNT opened a blacksmith’s shop on the west road.
W.S. BOWDEN opened a watch making and jewellery store at the green in Feb. 1908. He also had the agency for Needham Organs
John BOWDRING was operating a billiard table at the mines and P.F. DOYLE had opened a photographic studio in 1908
John HUGHES purchased D.J. JACKMAN’s billiard table and opened a pool room at the mines on Apr. 12, 1909
The BURKE brothers enlarged their store which was located on the Main Street, now known as Town Square (1909)
A Road Board was appointed on June 29, 1909, for Bell Island Proper, Lance Cove, and Freshwater. The members were: Thomas PARSONS, William HAMMOND, Thomas REES, William REES, Michael CONNORS, Frank NORMORE, Owen KELLY, Patrick MURPHY, James NORMORE, Patrick FITZGERALD and Richard KENT
John and Catherine FAGAN opened up a bakery on the Island in Feb 1910
Eugene H. REES was appointed a department surveyor of crown lands on July 19, 1910
A store run by a man named "Cheap Joe" was consumed by fire on Nov. 25, 1910
The store and dwelling of CANNING and PINE were auctioned on Dec. 14, 1910, and sold to Mr. Abram COHEN
W.F. BILLINGSLEY resigned his position as branch manager of PARKER and MONROE in May 1911, and moved to Bell Island to open a boot and shoe store in the building previously occupied by Mr. CANTWELL, druggist.
Bell Island’s first periodical, "The Wabana Druggist", made its appearance in Nov. 1910. The editor was L.J. LAWTON, proprietor of the Wabana Drug Store. It was distributed free to all homes. It contained all the news items of the island and its editorials were mainly directed at securing local improvements, such as better roads, sanitary conditions, etc. not to mention the ferry service.
Construction of a range of houses at the Front was begun by the Scotia Co. in Sept. 1911. It was called Bridal Ave., because the houses were subsequently occupied by five newly-wedded couples. Rev. Fr. McGRATH installed an acetylene lighting plant in the fall of 1911 in St. Michael’s Church. J.B. MARTIN and J.C. STEWART also had them in their stores. These are the first recorded instances of domestic and commercial lighting by means other than Kerosene lamps
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