Haunted Harbour Grace: #ComeHome2022 Edition

He’s back…

Undertaker Rogers makes a summer appearance during Come Home 2022! Meet at the Conception Bay Museum at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27, for a special edition of Haunted Harbour Grace. Admission is $10 per person ($5 for children, when accompanied by an adult). Tickets at the door. 

New actors, new stories, same horror… 

Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Time: 9 p.m.

Location: Conception Bay Museum, 1 Water St East, Harbour Grace, NL

Admission: $10 per person ($5 children, when accompanied by an adult); tickets at the door

Conception Bay Museum’s New Aviation Room Takes Off in Harbour Grace

PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release

June 1, 2022

HARBOUR GRACE, NL – The Conception Bay Museum’s well-known Aviation Room has gotten a facelift with funding from Newfoundland & Labrador’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation.

The revamped Aviation Room reopened for a private viewing on Friday, May 20, in celebration of the 90th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s solo transatlantic flight from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, to Derry, Northern Ireland. Members of Canada’s Eastern Chapter of the Ninety-Nines–an international organization of female pilots–were in attendance, along with municipal and provincial dignitaries, members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and the Museum’s board of directors.

The renovated exhibit is a chronological retelling of Harbour Grace’s aviation story, which began in 1919, when the Handley Page “Atlantic” was shipped to the community in 105 gigantic crates. The story continued eight years later, in 1927, when the community constructed the island’s first permanent airstrip to accommodate the transatlantic crossing of the Pride of Detroit. Soon, transatlantic aviators flocked to Harbour Grace as the final stop between North America and Europe. Twenty transatlantic flights were recorded at the airstrip; some were successful, some unsuccessful. However, none were more famous than Earhart’s solo transatlantic flight on May 20, 1932, which made the pilot an international celebrity and feminist icon for generations.

The room also pays tribute to aviators from Harbour Grace, whose endeavours are well remembered in the community. Though Lamont (“Lal”) Parsons fought on behalf of the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Battle of Britain, he is perhaps best known for his daring feat of flying between the steeples of Harbour Grace’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral. Claude Stevenson is feted for his contributions to airstrip maintenance during the second half of the twentieth century.

Chair of the Conception Bay Museum, Patrick J. Collins, believes these local contributions are a critical part of the community’s story: “We always try to highlight the local here, in everything we do. Harbour Grace’s aviation story is an international showcase, certainly, but locals have done so much to preserve and promote our airstrip. The Parsonses, the Stevensons, the Pikes, the Archibalds–without their contributions, this legacy might only be a footnote. It’s to their credit that it isn’t. We’re proud to showcase that side of the story as part of our new exhibit.”

Also featured are the models of David Williams, an aviation enthusiast who handcrafted models of each plane associated with the community’s history. Possibly Williams’s finest work–a large model of the “Atlantic” biplane, constructed from leftover material of the original plane–hangs from the ceiling as a fitting showcase.

The public is invited to visit the new exhibit in person when the Conception Bay Museum opens for the season in late June. For further information, visit conceptionbaymuseum.com.

Media contact:

Patrick J. Collins
Chair
pjcollins@eastlink.ca
709-589-5662

Matthew G. McCarthy
Communications Officer
matthewmccarthy@hotmail.ca
709-597-0474

Digital Museums Canada Investing in Our Upcoming Virtual Exhibit

Pictured: The Sir John Carling at Harbour Grace, September 1927.

On August 26, 1927, the Pride of Detroit landed at the Harbour Grace airstrip to a welcoming crowd. Local townspeople constructed the airstrip in a mere 20 days specficially for the plane’s landing, and over the coming decades, Harbour Grace would cement its legacy in aviation lore, hosting 20 transatlantic flight attempts.

The Conception Bay Museum is pleased to announce that Digital Museums Canada is investing in our new upcoming online project, Alone Among the Stars: Aviation in Harbour Grace, 1919-present. Funded under the Community Stories stream, this virtual exhibit will tell the story of Harbour Grace’s unique aviation legacy through archival records, oral histories, and artifacts.

To learn more about our approved project and others, visit: https://www.digitalmuseums.ca/news/approved-projects-submitted-as-part-of-the-2021-call-for-proposals/

The Digital Museums Canada investment program helps build digital capacity in Canadian museums and heritage organizations and gives Canadian unique access to diverse stories and experiences.

Digital Museums Canada is managed by the Canadian Museum of History, with financial support from the Government of Canada.

Photo of the Day: The Pride of Detroit, 1927

Pictured: Pride of Detroit at Harbour Grace, August 26, 1927.

Photo courtesy of a recent donation to the Conception Bay Museum archives.

During the summer of 1927, Stinson Aircraft Corporation and Waco Oil were sponsoring an around-the-world flight. However, they had a minor problem: Newfoundland, an ideal waypoint between eastern North America and Europe, had no official airstrip.

Fred Koehler, a Stinson Aircraft representative, was promptly sent to Newfoundland, where he met John L. Oke, of Harbour Grace, on a train out of St. John’s. Oke suggested he knew just the spot: near Crow Hill, Harbour Grace, land where the grade and length perfectly suited an airstrip.

The townspeople considered the airstrip a worthwhile endeavour, a way to put Harbour Grace on the map during this frenetic era of transatlantic aviation. At public meeting at the Town Hall on July 25, a twenty-one-person committee was formed, the Harbour Grace Airport Trust Company.

Work began in earnest on August 8, 1927. With money and equipment from private investors and the Newfoundland government, local labourers clearcut an area measuring 4,000 feet in length by 300 feet in width. The work took finished on August 26, just in time for the arrival of the Pride of Detroit and pilot William S. Brock and Edward Schlee, president of Waco Oil. The two were attempting to break the record for the fastest round-the-world trip, set by Edward Evans and Linton Wells in 1926. Colonial Secretary Sir John R. Bennett welcomed the crew to Newfoundland. On arriving in town, Brock and Schlee praised the new airstrip as one of the finest they’d seen.

The pair spent the night at the Cochrane House, a popular overnight establishment for aviators in Harbour Grace. In the early morning, at 7:43 a.m., the Pride of Detroit left Harbour Grace and headed for Croyden, England, the first call for their proposed round-the-world flight.

Read more about the Pride of Detroit on our ‘Aviation in Harbour Grace’ blog.

Calendar Fundraiser Update

The Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace, is excited to announce their first annual calendar for 2023, showcasing historical pictures of our town that will be ready for distribution this Come Home Year summer season. We are welcoming sponsorships from the business community. For a generous donation ($50.00 min.) your business name and logo will be featured in the calendar. Deadline for contact and inclusion is April 15, 2022.

Please contact one of the following:
Heather Pumphrey – 596-2352
Sonia Williams – 589-9887
Jane Lynch – 596-2058
Christina Cox – 596-1828
Brenda Hunt-Stevenson – 596-7549

Thank you for your consideration.

Note: If you’re a business who had contributed before Covid 19 shut this project down in 2020, we still have your contribution and will be including you.  Thank you.

Interview Request: Faery Tradition in Harbour Grace

“Faery circle,” Harbour Grace (Photo: Vicky Taylor-Hood)

We’ve had a request from a MUNL Folklore graduate student regarding the tradition of faeries in Harbour Grace.

As part of their thesis research, Magdalyn Knopp is looking to speak with any residents familiar with the tradition. Stories, experiences, beliefs, opinions – these sorts of things.

If you’re interested in participating, or know someone who might be, the research will comprise a short Zoom or phone interview (less than an hour).

Feel free to email Magdalyn at maknopp@mun.ca or call (709) 325-6121 for more information.