What was making news on Fogo Island more than a century ago

Benson
Benson Hewitt
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Some time ago I chanced upon some old copies of a newspaper called The Free Press, a weekly newspaper out of St. John's at the turn of the last century.

Someone from Fogo Island would, from time to time, send interesting news items concerning events, etc. on the island. His name was not given. They are fascinating in a number of ways, but chiefly we get an idea of what life was like on Fogo Island in the early 1900's. John Miles must have been the first Fogo Islander to have been killed in a motor accident, for example. We also find out that the several cannons around the harbour now for decorative purposes were used back then for celebration. The Clyde and the Prospero were coastal steamers calling at Fogo with freight, mail, and passengers. Typhoid fever was a real scourge. I could go on, but I'm sure you get my drift. It makes for some interesting reading. I did not edit anything. blh)

The view from Fogo Island -

Some time ago I chanced upon some old copies of a newspaper called The Free Press, a weekly newspaper out of St. John's at the turn of the last century.

Someone from Fogo Island would, from time to time, send interesting news items concerning events, etc. on the island. His name was not given. They are fascinating in a number of ways, but chiefly we get an idea of what life was like on Fogo Island in the early 1900's. John Miles must have been the first Fogo Islander to have been killed in a motor accident, for example. We also find out that the several cannons around the harbour now for decorative purposes were used back then for celebration. The Clyde and the Prospero were coastal steamers calling at Fogo with freight, mail, and passengers. Typhoid fever was a real scourge. I could go on, but I'm sure you get my drift. It makes for some interesting reading. I did not edit anything. blh)

° November 10th, 1903: John Miles, of Fogo, foreman of the Timber Estates Co., was badly injured at Lewisporte on Saturday by a car running over him. He died later. He was 27.

° July 20th, 1904: Harvey Hodge, son of D. Hodge, was severely injured at Fogo on Wednesday afternoon by the bursting of a cannon. With others, he was celebrating the wedding of Mr. Hyde, bookkeeper for the firm, when the cannon which he was firing burst and he received the force of the explosion in his face. His eyes were injured; the flesh on his forehead badly torn and he received a severe scalp wound. He was picked up unconscious, but Dr. Malcolm who attended him and brought him to believe he will recover without losing his sight.

° December 29, 1904: The members of this congregation (Church of England) have taken the first steps towards the erection of a new church, and a collection was made during the month and has gone up to the $600 mark; the present building is now too small for the congregation. The RC Church is now an ornament to the place and when the Methodist Church has received a coat of paint, and the new church above mentioned has been erected, Fogo will have a trio of churches which will do its people credit.

° December, 1904: A drowning accident at Tilting Harbour on Christmas Eve threw a cloud over that place at the holiday season, a girl meeting her death in crossing on the ice. Your correspondent has not the particulars at present.

° January 21, 1905: We are now shut in for the winter and it is not likely that this place will be visited by any steamer until spring. It is to be hoped that the Prospero will reach Seldom, but as it was unable to call here on her trip south this week, we do not expect she will reach here now.

The Clyde called on her way to St. John's and brought a mail but did not take one, the refusal to do so caused disappointment; doubtless Reids were justified in the refusal, but with the uncertainty of our mail service for the early weeks of winter when communication is difficult by courier, a little stretch might be made when a steamer is sailing for St. John's. We can only hope that they will be just as exact in the spring.

A new institution here is the Thursday half-holiday. During the winter months the stores will close at one o'clock on that day, thus giving the members of the staffs a chance for recreation. Football on the ice and skittles were the two items on the program this week.

One of our young men, Mr. Edward Hyde, left us per Prospero en route for the Northwest, where he hopes to settle for a time. By the same trip of the Prospero, Mr. E. Lind, who has been here on a visit to his brother, left for St. John's.

A few of our enterprising young men have made provisions for bad weather by the construction of a skating rink in one of the stores. Though small, it answers its purpose and is well patronizes by a select and enthusiastic company of skaters. This, with a round of parties at various houses, has enlivened the past month. Snow is anxiously looked for at present so that snow-shoeing excursions will be possible.

° January 30, 1905: One of the oldest residents of this place, (Seldom Come By), Mrs. William Penney, passed away on January 9th, after a short illness. The deceased was well-known and much respected, and the news of her death will be received with regret by many of the visitors to this place at spring and fall to whom she and her family were no strangers. Her husband survives her, as also several children, one of whom is the lighthouse keeper on Cann Island, and another the Lay Reader of the Methodist Church at Seldom, of which church the deceased was a member of long standing. The funeral was on January 11th, when, in spite of the storm, a large company gathered, the service being conducted by the Rev. C Hackett.

Miss Templeman, the popular Methodist teacher, (Seldom Come By) left by last Prospero, having decided to rest for the winter. She is succeeded in the school by Miss Maud Miller of Fogo. The interval occasioned by change of teachers gave an opportunity for repairs to the room, and for the painting of the interior of the building.

° March 14th, 1905: John Aylward of Joe Batt's Arm was killed while bird shooting in January. In company with a man named Harrigan, he went on the ice off the Little Fogo Islands, and in some way the latter's gun exploded, the charge entering Aylward's--- thigh. Harrigan got him to shore as best he could, but within four hours the poor fellow passed away, having bled to death, as there was no doctor on the Islands to relieve him.

° Sept 6th, 1905: The Methodist Sunday School (Fogo) picnic was held on August 18th in splendid weather. In addition to the scholars, a large number of visitors were present. Other picnics have been held at Barr'd Islands and Hare Bay.

Mr. Robert Scott, who was seized with an attack of paralysis while in St. John's, arrived back at Fogo last week by his steamer Annie; his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Laura Scott, accompanied him from St. John's. Since his arrival Mr. Scott has been doing well, and with his strong constitution, it is hoped that he will be about before long.

The friends of Mr. Levi Perry of Joe Batt's Arm will learn with regret that he has been down for the past 3 weeks with typhoid fever. The fever is now subsiding, but the patient is very weak, and it will be some weeks before he will be about again. Mr. Perry fills a large place in Joe Batt's Arm, both in business and church matters, as well as other things, few men being more respected, and his recovery is eagerly looked for by all sections of the community.

Our esteemed member, Mr. H. Earle, has been here on a visit to his son; his two daughters, Mrs. Wall and Miss Earle, are here at present.

The fall fishery so far has been poor owing to a scarcity of bait, and there are no signs of improvement at present. The fish caught earlier in the season are keeping the merchants busy at present, but there is some disappointment at the failure of bait during August.

° October 4th, 1905: One of our Fogo young ladies, Miss S.E. Loder, daughter of Mr. Andrew Loder, was yesterday united in Holy Matrimony to Mr. Thomas W. Scammell of Change Islands. The ceremony was performed by Reverend E.A. Butler, a large congregation being present. The bride was attired in white silk with veil and orange blossoms. Mr. and Mrs. Scammell left for their home at Change Islands this morning, carrying with them the good wishes of their friends.

Reverend W.H. Pike occupied the pulpit at the Methodist Church on Sunday last, having exchanged with Reverend C. Hackett.

Poor weather this past week has hindered the making and loading of fish. Shortage of bait has affected the catch, but yesterday, fortune favoured the fishermen somewhat; the time was favourable and bait being plentiful, most of them had good trips, as also did those along the shore.

Work has begun on Hodge's premises preparatory to the enlargement of the building. A new shop is to be built; the present shop being made into a wareroom.

° November 14th, 1905: The wedding of Miss Bertha Miller, daughter of Mrs. A. Miller to Mr. H.G. Alexander of London, England, took place in the Methodist Church on November 2nd. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander left last week to catch the Siberian for Glasgow, Scotland. After a short stay there, they will proceed to their future home in London, England.

There has been of late, and are still, a number of typhoid fever cases at Joe Batt's Arm and the people at that place are somewhat anxious as to the water supply. Some of the wells are right below the houses and a movement is at foot to secure a well in some other spot away from drainage.

° November 14th, 1905: Boyd's Cove is also making rapid strides to keep pace with 20th century progress, and the esteemed Parish Priest of Tilting, the good and popular Father Finn, has in hand the erection of a school chapel at Boyd's Cove, which is part of his parish. Father Finn's parishioners had a beautiful school chapel destroyed by fire in 1900, which was used only once. The present building under erection will be utilized as a school chapel for a short period, as the erection of a church in the near future is contemplated. Father Finn is also busy making final arrangements for the erection of a school chapel at Herring Neck. Most of the material being now available, the building will be rushed to completion and ready for use next spring.

bensonhewitt@eastlink.ca

Organizations: Methodist Church, The Free Press, Timber Estates Co. Church of England RC Church

Geographic location: St. John's, Fogo Island, Lewisporte Cann Island Change Islands Little Fogo Islands London England Hare Bay Scotland Herring Neck

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