Harbour Grace Notebook: February


Follow the Harbour Grace Notebook series with the hashtag #hgnotebook on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

3 Feb. 1832: Association of Fishermen meet at William Innot’s hotel, the Waterford Arms, and parade with flags and banners to Bear’s Cove, then on to Samson’s Brook (often called Nichols Brook), the band playing their favourite songs the whole way. They circle back to the Waterford Arms, where refreshments are served and twenty-five speeches given. William Talbot is the chairperson, Robert Oke the vice-chair.

3 Feb. 1845: Grammar School opens in Harbour Grace. John Irving Roddick is its first headmaster. More info: Harbour Grace Grammar School, 1845-1902; Profile: John Irving Roddick, Headmaster of the Harbour Grace Grammar School.

4 Feb. 1832: The striking sealers of Harbour Grace and Carbonear post the second notice of their meeting, set for February 9, 1832. More info: Perseverance: The Sealers’ Strike in Harbour Grace & Carbonear, 1832.

4 Feb. 1834: Meeting is held to discuss the reorganization of the Mutual Marine Insurance Club of Conception Bay. More info: John Munn & Co. fonds (Maritime History Archive)

4 Feb. 1967: SS Kyle breaks from her moorings during a winter storm, eventually grounding on a mussel bank in Riverhead, Harbour Grace.

5 Feb. 1833: Rev. Thomas Ewer (Yore) dies at Harbour Grace and is (probably) buried at Bennett’s Lane Roman Catholic Cemetery, Harbour Grace.

7 Feb. 1814: Harbour Grace’s branch of the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS), an Irish fraternal, charitable organization, is formed. Though explicitly non-denominational, many of its members are Roman Catholic. Dr. William Stiring, a Protestant, is its first chairperson.

7 Feb. 1834: Meeting discussing reorganization of Mutual Marine Insurance Club of Conception Bay is adjourned. New rules and regulations are agreed. The club appoints John Fitzgerald as its new secretary. 

7 Feb. 1850:
 In the midst of a severe winter, the Harbour Grace Methodist Church – second official Methodist church in Harbour Grace’s history – is destroyed by fire. More info: Second Methodist Church of Harbour Grace, 1822-1850.

7 Feb. 1917: Diomede Falconio, former administrator, vice chancellor and vicar general of Harbour Grace’s Roman Catholic Diocese, dies in Rome, Italy. More info: New York Times, Feb. 8, 1917.

8 Feb. 1909: Wrestler Jim Smart gives a wrestling exhibition at St. Paul’s Hall.

9 Feb. 1832: Striking sealers of Harbour Grace and Carbonear hold second meeting on Saddle Hill. Sealing masters are invited to bring copies of their agreements, so they can be made public. Harbour Grace merchant Thomas Ridley attends. More info: Perseverance: The Sealers’ Strike in Harbour Grace & Carbonear, 1832.

9 Feb. 1851: Third Harbour Grace Methodist Church opens. The building is 58 feet long and 36 feet wide, with capacity for 500 people. Its windows and galleries are designed in the Gothic style, in a manner similar to the former church. More info: Third Harbour Grace Methodist Church, 1851-1904.

10 Feb. 1904: Harbour Grace’s Methodist congregation meet at Coughlan Hall, Victoria St, to discuss building a new church after the fire on February 7, 1904. They decide to start building in the spring. More info: Facebook.

Coughlan Hall, ca. 1920

Coughlan Hall, located at the corner of Harvey St and Victoria St, ca. 1920.

13 Feb. 1843: A public meeting is held at the courthouse. The resulting resolution petitions the government to establish a public academy. Harbour Grace MHA Thomas Ridley later introduces the petition at the House of Assembly; and at the end of the session, the Grammar School Act becomes law. More info: Harbour Grace Grammar School, 1845-1902.

14 Feb. 1848: Thomas Ridley arrives home in Harbour Grace from duties at the Amalgamated Legislature in St. John’s, crossing the bay from Portugal Cove in an open boat.

14 Feb. 1862: House of Assembly tables a petition from Luke Fallon and constables of Harbour Grace. The constables request their salaries to be made equal to the force stationed in St. John’s.

16 Feb. 1852: Sons of Temperance Library opens in Harbour Grace, with Henry Trapnell as its first librarian.

18 Feb. 1832: In the early morning, at around 2:00 a.m., more than 200 striking sealers board Thomas Ridley’s ship, Perseverance, docked at Harbour Grace. They carry saws, axes and guns. In 10 minutes they cut the masts, rigging, yards and gaffs – damage estimated at £120. More info: Perseverance: The Sealers’ Strike in Harbour Grace & Carbonear, 1832.

19 Feb. 1858: Thomas Harrison Ridley, son of merchant Thomas Ridley, marries Ms. Darling in Jamaica. When the two later arrive at Harbour Grace, a grand reception is held at Ridley Hall, where arms are discharged and champagne liberally dispensed.

20 Feb. 1923: Sir Thomas Roddick, influential professor of surgery, militiaman, and MP,  passes away in Montreal. More info: Facebook.

21 Feb. 1877: Archibald Munn, owner of the Harbour Grace Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser, dies at Harbour Grace. More info: Profile: Archibald Munn, 1814-1877.

24 Feb. 1918: John Shannon Munn, his daughter Elizabeth (“Betty”) Munn, and nursemaid Constance Trenchard die tragically on the SS Florizel. More info: Profile: John Shannon Munn, 1880-1918.

25 Feb. 1785: John Wesley writes to John Stretton, the latter having inquired about the whereabouts of his mentor, Laurence Coughlan. Wesley replies that Coughlan “died some years previously, utterly broken in pieces.” More info: Facebook.

27 Feb. 1880: Enrico Carfagnini, former Bishop of Harbour Grace Diocese, becomes Bishop of Gallipoli, Italy. He still tries to influence matters in Harbour Grace through Diomede Falconio, administrator, vice chancellor and vicar general of the diocese.

28 Feb. 1857: “Foley’s Fire”: six people die in the conflagration.

Profile: John Shannon Munn, 1880-1918

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John (Jack) Shannon Munn. Photo courtesy Newfoundland Quarterly archives.

John (Jack) Shannon Munn was born in Harbour Grace in 1880, the son of William Punton Munn (son of prominent merchant John Munn) and Flora Clift LeMessurier. Shannon’s early life was spent at Bannerman House, a home originally built in 1799. William Punton Munn died in 1882, shortly after the birth of his only son, and Flora eventually remarried, taking J. Edgar Bowring, a member of the St. John’s mercantile elite, as a husband in 1888.

Bannerman House

Bannerman House, childhood home of John Shannon Munn. Photo courtesy Conception Bay Museum archives.

Shannon was schooled at Church of England College (now Bishop Feild) in St. John’s and continued his education in England in 1894, where he attended Forest School in Walthamstow, Essex.

In his spare time, Shannon took an interest in cricket, a British sport introduced to Newfoundland in the late nineteenth century to reasonable popularity. Clubs were active in St. John’s and Harbour Grace, and Shannon’s interest probably stemmed from his childhood in both places. During his time at Forest School, he was a regular in their first XI; in his last season, he took 55 wickets at an average of 13.96.

Shannon continued to play the sport at Oxford University, where he attended Hertford College. At first-class level, he obtained his best statistical season in his rookie year: in 1900 he took 13 wickets at an average of 16.76, with his best individual performance coming against Worcestershire at Oxford’s cricket ground. His teammates included some famous names in cricket: Bernard Bosanquet and R.E. (“Tip”) Foster, the only man to have captained both England’s international cricket and football teams. Unlike his teammates, Shannon didn’t play for a County Championship side in the summer, deciding to head home to Newfoundland for the remainder of the season. Back in St. John’s, he played for a local representative team against an amateur club from Boston.

In and out of the team, Shannon struggled in his second season in England. However, he featured for Oxford against Cambridge University, a prestigious annual match held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London. In 1901 Shannon returned to Newfoundland for good, failing to graduate from university. He is now remembered as one of only three first-class cricketers to hail from Newfoundland. (Interestingly, his stepfather’s second cousin, William Bowring, is another, having played for the West Indies and Barbados.) In 1903 he created Shannon Park in Harbour Grace, the community’s first official recreational field; the park was used largely for cricket and football matches.

After returning from England, Shannon rose through the ranks in his stepfather’s company, Bowring Brothers, eventually becoming director. In January 1908 he married Alice May McGowen at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in the capital city. Their daughter, Elizabeth (Betty) Shannon Munn, was born in 1914.

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Wedding of John Shannon Munn and Alice May McGowen. Photo courtesy Conception Bay Museum archives.

When World War I started in 1914, Shannon, too old to enlist, was eager to contribute. He served as the treasurer for the committee assigned to raise money to fund the Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Patriotic Association. One of the ships in Bowring’s employ, the SS Florizel, famously carried the Regiment’s first five hundred men, the ‘Blue Puttees,’ to the United Kingdom for training.

Tragically, Shannon met his end on the same ship in 1918. Travelling with his daughter and nursemaid, Constance Trenchard, he was on the Florizel when she was reassigned to passenger service between Newfoundland and New York. The three had planned on visiting Alice, then in New York, and heading to Florida for a brief vacation. However, their plans were dashed when disaster struck on the night of February 23-24, 1918. Caught in a storm near Cape Race, Newfoundland, the ship made a navigational error and crashed off Horn Head Point, near Cappahayden. 94 people were killed, including Shannon, Betty, and Constance Trenchard.


Wreck of the SS Florizel. Photo courtesy The Rooms Provincial Archives.

After their deaths, J. Edgar Bowring commissioned George Frampton to sculpt a Peter Pan statue in Bowring Park. Still a landmark in the park today, the piece is dedicated to the memory of Bowring’s granddaughter, Betty. A matching statue, also sculpted by Frampton, can be found in London’s Kensington Gardens.


George Frampton’s Peter Pan statue, Bowring Park. Photo courtesy archivalmoments.ca.


This post is part of the Harbour Grace Notebook series. Follow the updates on social media with the hashtag #hgnotebook. Post written by Matthew Gerard McCarthy (Communications Officer) for the Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace. 

Author’s note: If you want to know more about John Shannon Munn’s sporting history, I highly recommend Dave Liverman’s excellent essay on Cricket NL. Also, Admiralty House’s “Faces of the Florizel” exhibit is worth visiting if you wish to know more about this Newfoundland tragedy. 

Sources & Further Information

Brown, Cassie. A Winter’s Tale: The Wreck of the Florizel. St. John’s: Flanker Press, 1976. Print.

Lawton, J.T. “Shannon Park, Harbor Grace.” Newfoundland Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 4, 1906, pp. 15-16.

Liverman, Dave. “John Shannon Munn.” Canada Cricket, http://www.canadacricket.com/nlcricket/?page_id=78. Accessed 23 February, 2019.

Heritage Week 2019: Built Heritage in Harbour Grace

The National Trust for Canada and Heritage NL‘s “Heritage Week” runs from February 18 – 24, 2019. Check out some photos of built heritage in Harbour Grace. (The official designations of these sites vary and are listed in the captions below.)

Do you have any particular memories of these sites? Their former owners and uses? Message us on Facebook & Twitter, or email us at conceptionbaymuseum@outlook.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Immaculate Conception Cathedral (1889)

Immaculate Conception Cathedral (1889), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

St. Paul's Anglican Church (1835)

St. Paul’s Anglican Church (1835), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

West End Mercantile Establishment (1854)

West End Mercantile Establishment (ca. 1854), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Payne House (1856)

Payne House (ca. 1856), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Goodland House (ca. 1850)

Goodland House (ca. 1850), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Harbour Grace Railway Station (ca. 1884)

Harbour Grace Railway Station (ca. 1884), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Victoria Manor (ca. 1826)

Victoria Manor (ca. 1830), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Hampshire Cottage / Garrison House (ca. 1830)

Hampshire Cottage / Garrison House (ca. 1826), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Rothesay House / Munn Residence / Godden Residence (1855/1906)

Rothesay House / Munn Residence / Godden Residence (ca. 1855 / 1906), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Ridley Hall Ruins (1834)

Ridley Hall Ruins (1834), Registered Heritage Structure. Author photograph.

Ridley Office (1838)

Ridley Office (1838), Registered Heritage Structure. Photo courtesy Heritage NL.

Harbour Grace Courthouse (1830)

Harbour Grace Courthouse (1830), National Historic Site. Author photograph.

Otterbury Schoolhouse (ca. 1884)

Otterbury Schoolhouse (ca. 1884), Municipal Heritage Site. Author photograph.

Masonic Lodge Harbour Grace No. 476 A.F. and A.M., S.C (ca. 1868)

Masonic Lodge Harbour Grace No. 476 A.F. and A.M., S.C (ca. 1868), Municipal Heritage Site. Author photograph.

Customs House (ca. 1870), Municipal Heritage Site

Customs House (ca. 1870), Municipal Heritage Site. Author photograph.

The Maples / Simmons Residence (ca. 1900), Municipal Heritage Site

The Maples / Simmons Residence (ca. 1900), Municipal Heritage Site. Author photograph.

Stevenson House (ca. 1859)

Stevenson House (ca. 1859). Author photograph.

Rose Manor / Cron House (1879)

Rose Manor / Cron House / Thornhill / Bellevue (1879). Author photograph.

Further Information

Harbour Grace Registered Heritage District: Heritage NL | hrgrace.caHistoric Places | District Report (1992)

Immaculate Conception Cathedral: Heritage NL | Historic Places | Heritage NF | hrgrace.ca

St. Paul’s Anglican Church: Heritage NL | Historic Places | Heritage NF | hrgrace.ca | Ten Historic Towns (1978)

West End Mercantile Establishment: Heritage NL | Historic Places | Ten Historic Towns (1978)

Payne House: Heritage NL | Historic PlacesHeritage NF

Goodland House: Heritage NL | Historic Places | Heritage NF

Harbour Grace Railway Station: Heritage NL | hrgrace.ca | Historic Places | HNL Occasional Paper No. 008

Victoria Manor: Heritage NLHistoric Places | Heritage NF

Hampshire Cottage / Garrison House: Heritage NL | Ten Historic Towns (1978) | Heritage NF

Rothesay House / Munn Residence / Godden Residence: Heritage NL | Historic Places | hrgrace.ca | rothesay.com

Ridley Hall Ruins: Heritage NLHistoric PlacesHeritage NF

Ridley Office: Heritage NL | Historic Places | Heritage NF

Harbour Grace Courthouse: Parks Canada | hrgrace.ca | Historic Places

Otterbury Schoolhouse: hrgrace.caHistoric Places

Masonic Lodge: Heritage NL | Historic Places 

Customs House: Ten Historic Towns (1978) | hrgrace.ca

The Maples / Simmons Residence: Heritage NL | Historic Places 

Stevenson House: Ten Historic Towns (1978)

Rose Manor / Cron House / Thornhill / Bellevue: Ten Historic Towns (1978) | rosemanorinn.com | hrgrace.ca

Profile: Archibald Munn, 1814-1877

Archibald Munn gravesite, 2019

Archibald Munn gravesite, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Cemetery, Feb. 15, 2019. Author photograph.

Archibald Munn, of Rothesay, Scotland, came to Newfoundland in 1844 to work his uncle, John Munn, at his mercantile firm, Punton & Munn. On November 29, 1845, he married Elizabeth Ellis, daughter of Rev. William Ellis, at Harbour Grace.

In 1859, after gaining the requisite experience, Archibald went into business with Michael Carroll, establishing a fishing supply firm, Munn & Carroll, on the south side of King’s Cove, Bonavista Bay. Their business was extensive, and they had significant interests in Labrador herring.

The firm declared insolvency ten years after its founding, in 1869. J.T. Lawton and P.K. Devine summarized the failure in A History of King’s Cove (1944): Archibald had “an unwarrantable faith in people’s honesty,” Carroll “too many irons in the fire at one time to give proper attention to the business.” After bankruptcy, the firm owed John Munn & Co. $120,000. According to Lawton and Devine, King’s Cove suffered greatly that winter, due to the firm’s failure: “No flour could be had in King’s Cove. The supply of flour was short in Trinity also, and those King’s Covians who went to Trinty for flour had to be satisfied with Indian meal.”

In either 1871 or 1873 Munn purchased the Harbour Grace Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser, a popular newspaper, from the estate of its founder, William Squarey. After Munn’s death at Harbour Grace on February 21, 1877, his two sons, James T. and John D. Munn, continued to publish the paper. He is buried at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Cemetery, on Military Rd, along with other prominent members of the Munn family.

Archibald Munn headstone

Archibald Munn headstone. Photo by Anne Gosse. (Source: findagrave.com)

This post is part of the Harbour Grace Notebook series. Follow the updates on social media with the hashtag #hgnotebook

Sources & Further Information

Devine, P.K., and J.T. Lawton. A History of King’s Cove. 1944.

“Munn, Archibald.” Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1981. pp. 650.


— Written by Matthew Gerard McCarthy (Communications Officer) for the Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace.

Perseverance: The Sealers’ Strike in Harbour Grace & Carbonear, 1832


On the morning of January 9, between 2,000-3,000 men marched with fife and drums to Saddle Hill, between Harbour Grace and Carbonear. The gathering consisted of men from both communities and from varying religious backgrounds. The men had gathered to discuss getting rid of “truck,” the in-kind payments merchants used to negotiate exchanges with Newfoundlanders in the fishery and, partly, in the sealing industry. Often cash payments and “truck” practices were combined in the sealing industry, though the sealers now wanted rid of the latter practice for good – it was wages or nothing.

The men discussed the issue, christened Saddle Hill “Liberty Hill,” and departed peacefully.

On February 9, a second meeting was held, this time with sealing masters invited to attend. They were to bring their proposals, their new agreements, to the public meeting for discussion. If the agreement was acceptable, the men cheered; if not, they tore the agreement in pieces.

While Harbour Grace merchant Thomas Ridley attended the February 9 meeting, he did not comply with the sealers’ demands. This disagreement would soon cause great damage to his property.

In the early morning on February 18, at around 2:00 a.m., more than 200 men boarded Ridley’s ship Perseverance, docked at Harbour Grace. The men were armed with saws,  axes and guns. According to W.A. Munn’s account of the incident, a “mate was sleeping in the cabin, and ascended the companion ladder…[when] his progress was stopped by armed men with guns.” In about ten minutes, the men cut the masts, rigging, yards and gaffs – damage estimated at £120.

This action incensed the mercantile and magisterial elite of Conception Bay. Governor Sir Thomas John Cochrane proclaimed any future meetings on Saddle Hill illegal, offering £100 reward and pardon for anyone with information regarding the destruction of Ridley’s property.

Constables from St. John’s posted Cochrane’s proclamation at various mercantile establishments in Harbour Grace and Carbonear. Within two hours the notice had been torn down; the sealers even tore down the copy posted near the newly built Harbour Grace courthouse, leaving the board smashed in pieces.

The sealers used disobedience and intimidation to great effect after the vandalism on February 18. In her article “Collective Action in Outport Newfoundland,” Linda Little details these brutal tactics:

The fisherman were careful in selecting their targets. They attacked only those who they felt were interfering with their progress. A planted named Nichole was met by three men with a pistol, a large stick, and a scythe but was released when they discovered he was not the man they were after. Seven men with blackened faces visited the home of a ship’s master where a member of the household was suspected of being untrue to the cause. Amidst a great commotion the traitor was dragged from his bed and beaten. A man living near Saddle Hill who claimed to know some of the ringleaders was visited during the night by more than 100 armed men and was only saved from shooting by his wife’s pleading. Another man, who had intended to identify the vandals on Ridley’s ship, suddenly withdrew his offer of information and claimed to know nothing about the incident. (28)

The men posted a final notice on March 1: the deadline for settling an agreement was March 3. Each agreement would have two copies, one for the master of the vessel, one for the crew.

In preparation for this “illegal” gathering, the magistrates had over 100 special constables stationed in each town and at Saddle Hill. Between 500-600 sealers gathered at William Innott’s pier, on Harbour Grace wharf. The magistrates, with police and specials in tow, could do little to quell the gathering. Though the Chief Magistrate read the Riot Act, the men only dispersed briefly, soon rallying again at Ridley’s wharf, the scene of the February 18 fracas. The magistrate demanded they hand their agreement over, which the sealers did, much to to his surprise. Not knowing what then to do in front of this hostile crowd, he gave the agreement back and seemingly fled. He reported to the governor that “the noise, uproar, and numbers made any attempt to stop them futile.” The sealers then paraded through the streets, halting in front of each merchant house to call out their agreement. Each merchant agreed to the terms in turn; each agreement was saluted with a cheer and the men moved on.  Surely spotting a bellicose mob on one’s front lawn, with no lawmen in sight, had something to do with accepting these newly satisfactory terms.

Later, at Carbonear, another radical procession occurred on March 6. As at Harbour Grace, the merchants agreed to the new terms. However, at the Best & Waterman’s pier, some sealers signed on despite dissatisfaction with their agreement. In response, about 200 men boarded Best & Waterman’s two vessels and ordered the scabs ashore. Three or four men on the vessel Morning Star refused to leave, and the strikers physically hauled them from the boat; one man, Thomas Scalon (Scanlon), was severely beaten with sticks and gaffs. The strikers threatened Waterman with violence if he did not draft a new agreement. Waterman acceded to the demands.

Peace had been established by March 14, and the fleet sailed for the ice.

The sealers’ strike of 1832 is one of Newfoundland’s most fascinating instances of labour agitation. The strike set the stage for other collective action – and violence – in the following decade.

This post is part of the Harbour Grace Notebook series. Follow the updates on social media with the hashtag #hgnotebook

Photo source: From the animated short film 54 Hours (2014), National Film Board of Canada. 

Author’s note: If you’re interested in the broader socio-economic context of the 1832 sealers’ strike, I highly recommend reading Linda Little’s “Collective Action in Outport Newfoundland: A Case Study from the 1830s,” published in Labour/Le Travail. This post is merely a brief sketch of the history.  Also, see W.A. Munn’s serialized history of Harbour Grace and Shannon Ryan’s writing for more information. 

Sources & Further Information

Little, Linda. “Collective Action in Outport Newfoundland: A Case Study from the 1830s.” Labour/Le Travail, vol. 26, no. 1, 1990, pp. 7-37.

Ryan, Shannon. “Newfoundland Sealing Strikes, 1830-1914.” Northern Mariner/Le Marin du Nord, vol. 4, no. 3, 1994, pp. 19-37.


— Written by Matthew Gerard McCarthy (Communications Officer) for the Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace.

Summer Fundraising Concert, Feb. 16

The winner of our 50/50 ticket (#0155) was in the audience and took home $1,909! Congratulations!


In total, with the 50/50 draw and the gate, we raised $3,500 for our summer programming. Special thanks to our performers – Long Drung, Pam Parsons, Kaitlyn Noel, Brenda Hunt-Stevenson and Paul Stevenson, John Smith & Benny Lewis, and Chad Hunt – to those who donated door prizes, and to those who came to last night’s show. We appreciate your continued support!

Here are some pictures from our Summer Fundraising Concert. Thank you to Pamela Whelan for grabbing these shots – they’re excellent.

Long Drung

Long Drung

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Long Drung


Long Drung


Long Drung


Long Drung


Long Drung


Pam Parsons

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Pam Parsons

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Pam Parsons


Kaitlyn Noel

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Kaitlyn Noel

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Kaitlyn Noel


Paul Stevenson

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Brenda Hunt-Stevenson

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Brenda Hunt-Stevenson

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Benny Lewis & John Smith

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Benny Lewis & John Smith

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Chad Hunt

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Chad Hunt

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Chad Hunt


Pamela (Barton) Lee’s model of the Customs House / Conception Bay Museum


Photos courtesy Snap by Pam: https://www.facebook.com/snapbypam/

Profile: Third Harbour Grace Methodist Church, 1851-1904


After the fire on February 7, 1850, Rev. William E. Stenstone petitioned the Newfoundland Legislature for aid, which Governor Sir John Gaspard LeMarchant endorsed. The government subsequently granted £200 for a new Methodist church. There were also donations from local merchants: Ridley & Sons donated £50, and John Munn and his wife gave £100 each. In five months, the subscription list stood at about £600, and further donations were expected from the Methodist congregation in St. John’s.

On February 9, 1851, the third Harbour Grace Methodist Church opened for parishioners. The building was 58 feet long and 36 feet wide, with capacity for 500 people. Its windows and galleries were designed in the Gothic style, in a manner similar to the former church. A separate room, the Sabbath school, was attached to the chapel, measuring 26 feet in length, 18 feet in width.

This post is part of the Harbour Grace Notebook series. Follow the updates on social media with the hashtag #hgnotebook

Photo source: Conception Bay Museum archives, photo no. 2016-117

Profile: Second Harbour Grace Methodist Church, 1822-1850

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Built between 1820-23, the Harbour Grace Methodist Church replaced John Stretton’s first Methodist church, built on the hillside which now bears his name. Following the accepted style of architecture, the church was patterned in a similar fashion to other Wesleyan structures in Newfoundland during that time. It was 50 feet long and 40 feet wide, with eastern, western and southern galleries; the southern gallery was for the choir. Though the church lacked an organ, for many years the choir was commended for its unique musical talent. Noted for its comfortable pews and neatness, the church could seat 450 people.

In 1849 the roof had been shingled, the building painted inside and out. Due to these needed repairs, the church was £100 in debt and carried no insurance. On February 7, 1850, in the midst of a severe winter, the Harbour Grace Methodist Church was destroyed by fire. Through the goodwill of the Board of Works and Sheriff George Gaden, church service continued at the courthouse for the rest of 1850.

This post is part of the Harbour Grace Notebook series. Follow the updates on social media with the hashtag #hgnotebook

Picture source:  Pictorial Harbour Grace: Souvenir Guy Ter-Centenary Celebration (1910).

Harbour Grace Featured in New Short Film

Harbour Grace will be featured in a new short film, New Woman, directed by Benjamin Noah and starring Rhiannon Morgan and Stephen Oates. You can view the new trailer here:

As described by the Newfoundland Quarterly, New Woman is a “gothic-romance [which takes] place just prior to the great St. John’s fire of 1892. The landscape of Newfoundland is also a lead actor in the film, though it’s a more foreboding and wild landscape than you’ve ever seen in a tourism commercial.”

In an interview with the Compass, Noah said Harbour Grace, an “old, beautiful spot,” was an ideal location for filming: “When you’re shooting any sort of project set in an older time period, it can be kind of difficult when it comes to finding places to film, but Newfoundland has a lot of these really nice looking buildings and areas that, when shot the right way, can really look the part, like the church we filmed at today [St. Paul’s Anglican Church].”

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St. Paul’s Anglican Church (1835)

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St. Paul’s Anglican Church (1835)

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Stevenson’s rock wall, Water St, Harbour Grace

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Harbour Grace Islands

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St. Paul’s Anglican Church (1835)


New Woman poster, featuring St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Look out for New Woman soon at a film festival soon.

Links & Further Info

NQ interview | Compass profile | Benjamin Noah Vimeo

Profile: Harbour Grace Grammar School, 1845-1902


In the spring of 1843, an act was passed establishing a Grammar School at Harbour Grace. A grant of £400 was allocated to support the school. A Board of Commissioners was established as well, consisting of three members from the Church of England, three from the Roman Catholic Church, and three from other denominations. The chairperson was Dr. William Archibald Stirling, the prominent local surgeon.

For the position of headmaster, twenty-three applications were submitted, including one from Thomas Talbot, who would later become an MHA, Sheriff of the District Court, and teacher at St. Bonaventure’s College, St. John’s. However, John Irving Roddick, of Jedborough, Scotland, was chosen as headmaster. Roddick’s grandfather, Martin, had considerable interests in Newfoundland, owning a fleet of ships which traded in the colony. Roddick had originally trained for the ministry, before settling on teaching as a profession. Notably, he was a friend of the eminent Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle. Roddick’s salary was one hundred and fifty pounds per annum.

Built by Thomas Kitchen, the Grammar School officially opened on February 3, 1845, with fifty-five students registered. The school was located near the courthouse, a little west on Harvey St. Families paid seven and sixpence for their children’s registration every quarter. Students had three weeks vacation in the summer, three weeks at Christmas, and a week at Easter. Many Grammar School alumni went on to become prominent members of Newfoundland society, notably William Azariah Munn and the headmaster’s own son, Sir Thomas Roddick. Unsurprisingly, the Grammar School was considered one of the best schools in Newfoundland at the time.

James D. Munn succeeded Roddick as headmaster. The school was closed briefly but reopened in 1898 as a boys school, with Levi Thomas Chafe as principal.

The school operated until 1902, when the school’s committee decided to close the institution, citing its unfavourable location: most pupils lived in the town’s west end, and a school on Downing St was more convenient.

Chafe and his family continued living in the building and its attached dwelling, formerly a dormitory for out-of-town students, until 1906, when he left to become manager of Murray & Crawford at Harbour Grace. The adjacent homeowner, E.B. Thompson, then purchased the property, took down the schoolhouse and dormitory, and sold the land to R. Morrison.

Sources & Further Reading

Davis, May. “Harbour Grace History.” Newfoundland Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 1, 1957, pp. 21-22.

Fawkes, Marion Elizabeth. In Search of My Father: One Woman’s Search for the Father She Never Knew. Dundurn, 1994. Print.

Munn, W.A. “Harbour Grace History: Chapter Sixteen.” Newfoundland Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 3, 1937, pp. 9-14.