Harbour Grace Notebook: March

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1 Mar. 1832: The striking sealers of Harbour Grace and Carbonear post their final notice: the merchants have until March 3 to settle their agreements. More info: Perseverance: The Sealers’ Strike in Harbour Grace & Carbonear, 1832.

3 Mar. 1832: 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. 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. More info: Perseverance: The Sealers’ Strike in Harbour Grace & Carbonear (1832).

4 Mar. 1878: Ernest Sheppard, ferryman and cooper, born in Harbour Grace to John Coryer Sheppard and Janet (Courage) Sheppard. He would later serve with distinction in the South African War as part of Lord Strathcona’s Horse and the South African Constabulary, a British paramilitary. More info: Artifact Profile No. 2: Portrait & Military Discharge Papers of Ernest Sheppard (1878-1955).

4 Mar. 1955: Ernest Sheppard dies at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital, St. John’s. He is buried at St. Paul’s Anglican Cemetery, Harbour Grace, with his wife Anne Beatrice (Smith) Sheppard. More info: Artifact Profile No. 2: Portrait & Military Discharge Papers of Ernest Sheppard (1878-1955).

6 Mar. 1852: The St. John’s-Carbonear telegraph line goes into service. To celebrate the inauguration of the line, Frederick Gisborne gives a public lecture to the Mechanics’ Institute at the Old Factory, St. John’s.  Many public officials and dignitaries attend the discussion. The telegraph office is situated at the Commercial Building, Duckworth St, and connects to the system linking Harbour Grace and Brigus.

8 Mar. 1810: Charles Davis Garland, planter and judge, dies at Harbour Grace, aged 79. More info: Profile: Charles Davis Garland (1730-1810)

11 Mar. 1852: The Thursday edition of the Newfoundlander discusses the excitement surrounding the new St. John’s-Carbonear telegraph line: “The Electric Telegraph between St. John’s and Conception Bay was put into operation for the first time on last Saturday, and has transmitted several messages from Brigus and Harbour Grace each day this week. Yesterday particularly, the Telegraph Office was the scene of a general attraction throughout the day.” 

11 Mar. 1943: Lamont “Lal” Parsons, native of Harbour Grace, completes an experimental flight carrying two 250-lb bombs. Several days later he flies a bomb-equipped Hurricane on a dusk patrol to Cape Race.


Lal Parsons flies plane carrying two 250-lb bombs, March 11, 1943. Photo courtesy Crossroads of the World (@hattiescamp).

14 Mar. 1832: The sealers and merchants of Harbour Grace and Carbonear establish peace, their (dis)agreements settled. The fleet leaves for the ice. More info: Perseverance: The Sealers’ Strike in Harbour Grace & Carbonear, 1832.

17 Mar. 1814: First feast of the newly inaugurated Benevolent Irish Society (BIS), Conception Bay Branch, the non-denominational, but largely Roman Catholic, fraternal, charitable organization, held at Harbour Grace. Dr. William Stirling, chairperson–and notably, a Protestant–presides over the occasion. At this same annual dinner in 1832, the St. John’s Evening Telegram reports, “He [Stirling] presided over a lavish dinner that began at 6 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day and lasted until 3 a.m. the following morning. Forty members attended and there were forty-one toasts proposed–one for each member and one extra.”

17 Mar. 1864: Businessman William J. Donnelly dies at Harbour Grace. He is buried in a crypt under the former Cathedral at Harbour Grace along with his wife and three of his children. He is recognized as contributing large sums of money to build and furnish the original Cathedral, as well as a Roman Catholic chapel and school at Spaniard’s Bay. His obituary states: “His career was one of strict integrity, and he left a handsome fortune, the result of a life of steady toil and frugality.” (Note: Donnelly’s body, and the bodies of his family members, were moved in fall 2018 and interred at Harbour Grace’s Roman Catholic Cemetery on Hipsley Rd.)

20 Mar. 1879: Thomas Ridley dies in Upper Tooting, Surrey, England, aged 80. More info: Facebook.

22 Mar. 1904: Thomas Harrison Ridley dies in London, England.

23 Mar. 1823: Enrico Carfagnini born in Aversa, Italy, to Liborio Carfagnini and Ascenza Ciancarelli.

26 Mar. 1940: Sir Richard A. Squires dies in St. John’s. Born at Harbour Grace in 1880, the only child of Alexander Squires and Sidney Jane Anderson, Squires became two-time Prime Minister of Newfoundland (1919-23; 1928-1932) and possibly its most controversial political figure. More info: Facebook.

29 Mar. 1968: Old Riverhead Post Office shuts its doors; new Post Office opens. More info: Profile: Old Riverhead Post Office, 1916-1968.

30 Mar. 1853: People of Harbour Grace send a petition to the Legislature to construct a sewer on Water Street.

31 Mar. 1984: Harbour Grace Railway Station officially closes.

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