Harbour Grace Notebook: November


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1 Nov. 1836: Harbour Grace hit with election violence.

2 Nov. 1870: Thomas Harrison Ridley states in the Harbour Grace Court House to his creditors that he has lost three hundred thousand dollars during the past few years in general trade. A compromise is arranged and strong efforts are made to keep the business going.

4 Nov. 2018: Ceremonial farewell to Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

6 Nov. 1764: Edward Langman writes to Society of the Propagation of the Gospel: “It was my decision, on my return from Trinity, to have paid a visit to Harbour Grace. By reason, the Inhabitants of that place and Carbonear a neighbouring place, and some other Inhabitants of Conception Bay, have later raised a Subscription for Erecting a new Church at Harbour Grace…the Inhabitants, Merchants and Employers of Harbour Grace, Carbonear, Et cet: are very desirous of having a resident of the Missionary to perform Divine Service in, if the worthy Society Shall think proper to Send one among them. I am told there is now a Subscription on foot amongst the people there, for the Support of a Minister, beside what the Society Sh/d allow yearly, in case the Society Sh/d Send one to them.”

8 Nov. 1889: Second Immaculate Conception Cathedral dedicated.

13 Nov. 1822: Advertisement in The Newfoundland Patriot: “The Packet boat Lively sails twice a week from Portugal Cove to Harbor Grace. Fare: Ladies & Gentlemen: 5 shillings each; Tradesmen & Laborers: 4 shillings each; Hire of boat: 30 shillings; Letters: 9 pence.”

13 Nov. 1886: St. Joseph’s Church opens in Riverhead.

15 Nov. 1836: Violence against Joseph Pippy in Mosquito, related to assault of Thomas Ridley.

16 Nov. 1859: Harbour Grace Standard first published in Harbour Grace

16 Nov. 1886: Cornerstone of the former St. Paul’s Hall on Harvey St laid.

19 Nov. 1846: Enrico Carafagnini ordained a Roman Catholic priest.

21 Nov. 1837: Harbour Grace Island lighthouse first exhibited. Austin Oke is its first light keeper.

Harbour Grace Lighthouse

Harbour Grace Island Lighthouse (Source: Maritime History Archive)

22 Nov. 1765: People of Harbour Grace and Carbonear authorize merchant George Davis to obtain a Protestant clergyman for the area; that priest would be Laurence Coughlan.

22 Nov. 1884: First train runs over the branch line from St. John’s to Harbour Grace

24 Nov. 1851: Frederick N. Gisborne, engineer of Manchester, England, completes telegraph line from St. John’s to Harbour Grace

26 Nov. 1612: After successful lobbying by Sir Richard Whitbourne, King James I grants a second pardon to Peter Easton. The pardon never reaches the pirate.

27 Nov. 1921: First telephone connection made between St. John’s and Harbour Grace.

Curator’s Report Excerpt: Attendance at a Glance (2019)

On behalf of our museum, we would like to share a portion of our Curator’s Final Report
for this tourist season (2019). We have had a very successful season, as the attendance
numbers below demonstrate:



Non-resident museum visitors (2019)


Museum visitors from NL (2019)


Museum visitors from other parts of Canada (2019)


Museum visitors from the United States (2019)


Museum visitors from Europe & Australia (2019)


Total attendance (2019)


Special events breakdown (2019)

To conclude, the Conception Bay Museum has had a wonderful tourist season. Our
summer student tour guides performed exceptionally as they welcomed visitors from
all over the world daily. Our Board of Directors is to be commended for their hard work
and dedication to our museum – they go above and beyond! And most importantly, we
would like to thank ALL who have contributed to and supported our museum in any way. We appreciate it so much – our beautiful historic building by the sea wouldn’t exist
without you! See you in the spring!

Download this excerpt of the Curator’s report here [PDF].

– Curator’s report and statistics by Danita Power 

Video: Profile of the Conception Bay Museum

On Saturday, November 9, the Conception Bay Museum’s latest tourism infrastructure project, the redesigned stairs to Colston’s Cove, were opened to the public in Harbour Grace. The Harbour Grace Board of Culture, Innovation & Business’ oral history research team were on hand to capture the opening and chat to locals about what the Museum means to the community. Check out the video below:

For future updates on the oral history series, visit the Harbour Grace Board of Culture, Innovation and Business’ Facebook and YouTube pages.

Thanks to Alyssa Shaw, Ryan Reynolds, Andrew Rossiter and Jo-Annah Yetman for the video.


Artifact Profile No. 5: Red Ensign


Thank you to Joy French-Coleman for donating this beautiful historic flag, the Red Ensign, to the Museum at our AGM on Thursday, November 14, 2019. This flag belonged to Joy’s parents, Gordon and Mary French, who once owned Victoria Manor.

The Red Ensign was officially endorsed by King Charles II in 1674; this authorization recognized it as the ensign of English merchant shipping. Later, during the Victorian era, the flag—with colonial badge—formed the basis as the Colony of Newfoundland’s civil ensign. Old oil paintings show red ensigns flying from the topmasts of Grand Banks schooners. Nineteenth-century photographs show red ensigns flown at Moravian mission stations and Hudson’s Bay Company trading posts along the Labrador Coast.

Red Ensign (Newfoundland)

Red Ensign (Newfoundland). Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

In 1904, the British Parliament designated a civil ensign specifically for Newfoundland. The Red and Blue Ensigns with the Great Seal of Newfoundland in the fly were the British Dominion’s colony’s official flags from 1904 until 1931, after which the Union Jack was adopted as Newfoundland’s official national flag and the ensigns reserved for shipping and marine identification—the Red Ensign to be flown by merchant shipping while the blue was flown by governmental ships. Neither ensign was immediately formally adopted by the Newfoundland National Assembly, which sat at the Colonial Building in St. John’s, when Newfoundland became an independent Dominion of the British Empire in 1907. It was not until the Newfoundland National Flag Act of 1931 that the Newfoundland parliament officially adopted the Union Jack as the national flag of Newfoundland and re-affirmed the red and blue ensigns as official flags for marine identification. Between 1907 and 1931, however, the red ensign gained wide enough use, both at sea and on land by civilians and government alike, that it was considered to be the national flag.

The badge in the ensigns consists of Mercury, the god of commerce and merchandise, presenting to Britannia a fisherman who, in a kneeling attitude, is offering the harvest of all the sea. Above the device in a scroll are the Latin words ‘Terra Nova‘, and below the motto Hæc Tibi Dona Fero or “These gifts I bring thee.” The seal was redesigned by Adelaine Lane, niece of Governor Sir Cavendish Boyle.


Harbour Grace Notebook: October


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1 Oct. 1833: Two days dedicated to horse racing at Cochrane Race Course.

2 Oct. 1881: Bishop Ronald McDonald preaches his first sermon at Harbour Grace.

4 Oct. 1884: Railway line to Harbour Grace and Whitbourne (Harbour Grace Junction) completed. More info: Harbour Grace Railway Station.

5 Oct. 1996: The Harbour Grace Railway Station becomes a Municipal Heritage Site.

5 Oct. 1934: Harbour Grace Standard ceases publication with its issue by the publishers, Munn & Oke (Edward L. Oke, editor) after 85 years of existence. More info: Harbour Grace Standard – MUN Digital Archives Initiative.


The Harbour Grace Standard

5 Oct. 1850: John Munn, as President of the Commercial Society, presents Lieutenant W.J. Coen, of the Royal Newfoundland Company, with a sword, an honour of high esteem.

6 Oct. 1877: Pipe organ manufactured by Chappell & Company, of Liverpool, installed at St. Paul’s Church.

6 Oct. 1775: Rev. James Balfour arrives in Harbour Grace. More info: Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

7 Oct. 1928: H.C. MacDonald’s Gypsy Moth leaves Harbour Grace for England.

7 Oct. 1612: John Guy: “It was by sailing and rowing all night, we came to Havre de Grace as far as the Pirate’s Rock, where we remained until the 17th.” He lands fifteen tons of salt on the “highest point of land,” which he christens Colston’s Cove, after his brother-in-law, settler William Colston. More info: Profile: Colston’s Cove, Harbour Grace.

9 Oct. 1930: Columbia, with pilots Errol Boyd & Harry Connor, leaves Harbour Grace. More info: “The Columbia N.X. 237 in Newfoundland,” by Dr. Lisa M. Daly.

10 Oct. 1930:  Columbia arrives in Tresco, Scilly Islands, England, from Harbour Grace. Erroll Boyd & Harry Connor become the first Canadians to cross the Atlantic.

11 Oct. 1884: Harbour Grace railway branch line opens.

12 Oct. 1877: S.S. Glover arrives from England for Conception Bay service.

14 Oct. 1870: Ridley & Sons closes in Harbour Grace. A letter in historian W.A. Munn’s possession said, “A gloom had gone over the whole City, when they heard that Ridley was in trouble.”

17 Oct. 1860: Fire engine imported for the Volunteer Fire Brigade.

19 Oct. 1929: Golden Hind, piloted by Urban F. Diteman Jr, arrives at the Harbour Grace airstrip.

21 Oct. 1870: Ridleys declare their business insolvent.

22 Oct. 1929: Golden Hind heads for England. Diteman leaves a letter stating his intentions, but he is never heard from again.

22 Oct. 1940: William Azariah Munn dies of a heart attack at his home on 28 Gower St, St. John’s. That night of his death, he hosted friends from the Newfoundland Historical Society at his residence. More info: Fish Oil & Water: The Life of William Azariah Munn.

24 Oct. 1940: W.A. Munn buried at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Cemetery on Military Rd, Harbour Grace.

25 Oct. 1771: Governor John Byron revokes Laurence Coughlan’s appointment as Justice of the Peace because of his “many unwarrantable proceedings to the great obstruction & discouragement of the trade & fishery.” More info: Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

28 Oct. 1936: Miss Dorothy aircraft, piloted by Jimmy Mollison, arrives at Harbour Grace.

29 Oct. 1936: Miss Dorothy aircraft leaves Harbour Grace – the last aircraft to utilize the airstrip for a transatlantic flight. 

31 Oct. 1836: Men march from Carbonear to Harbour Grace for the general election.

31 Oct. 1852: A political meeting is held at Mosquito.

Colston’s Cove Steps Now Open

On the anniversary of John Guy’s last day in Harbour Grace – October 7, 1612 – we’re pleased to announce the recently restored steps to Colston’s Cove are now open! They’ll remain open until late fall, close for the winter, and reopen spring 2020.

According to Guy’s October journal, he and his men “land[ed]…salt upon the highest part of the ground and there put it in a round heap and burned it to preserve it. The quantity of salt was fifteen tons.” Guy christened this beach Colston’s Cove, after his brother-in-law, William Colston.

In W.A. Munn’s history, he notes this beach was later known as Bradbury’s Cove:

“We now come to where Isaac Bradbury had his fishing stage, right in front of where we now find the Methodist Church stands at the present time. This property was purchased from the Garland family. The Bradbury family had aristocratic connections in the Old Country, and have always held a high name in Harbour Grace. Bradbury’s Cove is still known by that name, although the fishing stages have vanished long ago. Tradition says that this was originally Colston’s Cove, and this name dates back to 1610 when William Colston was right hand man with our first Governor John Guy…and where the salt was landed in 1612.”

Harbour Grace Notebook: September


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2 Sept. 1889: The first Immaculate Conception Cathedral burns. Although valued at $350,000 in 1889, the church carried no insurance for damages.

3 Sept. 1799: Father Patrick Phelan drowns off Grates Cove; he is later buried at Bennett’s Lane Roman Catholic Cemetery, Harbour Grace. He would be one of the cemetery’s earliest internments. Phelan, a Franciscan or Friar Minor, headed the Harbour Grace mission under Bishop James O’Donel (O’Donnell), travelling around Conception Bay to deliver mass to its Catholics. Although the date of his arrival is unknown, Phelan was in Harbour Grace by 1794, making two visitations to his parish annually.

3 Sept. 1856: Harbour Grace Turf Club holds a meeting at Connell’s Hotel. The Club names Capt. Samuel Gordon chairperson, J. Fennell secretary.

3 Sept. 1906: Sir Thomas Roddick marries his second wife, Amy Redpath, in Chislehurst, London.

4 Sept. 1860: Volunteer Fire Brigade reorganizes: a new fire bell is erected, and a new engine purchased. Henry T. Moore, Michael Hartery and others are appointed to the committee.

5 Sept. 1830: Beginning of Harbour Grace Volunteer Fire Brigade.

5 Sept. 1927: Pilots Terrence Tully & James V. Medcalf arrive at the Harbour Grace airstrip in their plane, the Sir John Carling.


James V. Medcalf and Terrence Tully, pilots of the Sir John Carling

7 Sept. 1927: The Sir John Carling leaves the Harbour Grace airstrip. Pilots Duke Schiller and Phil Wood arrive at the airstrip in the Royal Windsor.

9 Sept. 1935: The Northrop Alpha, a pleasure aircraft piloted by Frederick D. Lee, arrives in Harbour Grace.

11 Sept. 1854: Harbour Grace’s ‘Beacon Light’ first exhibited.

11 Sept. 1935: The Northrop Alpha leaves Harbour Grace for Saint John, New Brunswick.

12 Sept. 1927: SS Kyle recovers the wreck of the Old Glory, with the crew nowhere to be found. Fred Koehler, instrumental in creating an airstrip at Harbour Grace, was on board.

13 Sept. 1851: Magistrate Robert John Pinsent lays the cornerstone at the Temperance Hall on Victoria St.

14 Sept. 1614: Henry Mainwarring, a pirate who frequented Harbour Grace’s shores, leaves Newfoundland.

14 Sept. 1927: Royal Windsor leaves Harbour Grace for Windsor, Ontario, its planned transatlantic flight cancelled after the fates of the Old Glory and Sir John Carling.

15 Sept. 1936: Beachcraft newsplane, carrying Carl Chader and passengers, arrives in Harbour Grace to cover the rescue of the Lady Peace, then stranded in Musgrave Harbour. Also, the Great Silver Fleet aircraft arrives in Harbour Grace as part of the rescue. It is the largest plane to visit airstrip in its nine-year history.

16 Sept. 1936: Beachcraft aircraft, with pilot Johnny Schobe, arrives in Harbour Grace and leaves the same day for Musgrave Harbour.

18 Sept. 1936: Lady Peace aircraft, piloted by Dick Merrill and Harry Richman, arrives at Harbour Grace from Musgrave Harbour, having been rescued by Ed Rickenbacker, the famed World War I flying ace.

20 Sept. 1842: Diomede Falconio Born in Pescocostanzo, Italy, in the region of the Abbey of Monte Cassino.


Thomas Eakin’s portrait of Diomede Falconio (Source: National Gallery of Art)

20 Sept. 1936: The Great Silver Fleet and Lady Peace aircrafts leaves Harbour Grace for New York, USA.

21 Sept. 1833: First Presentation Sisters arrive in St. John’s. Sisters from the Order would come to Harbour Grace in 1851.

21 Sept. 1837: Rev. William Ellis dies at Harbour Grace. He is the first British Methodist missionary to die and be buried in Newfoundland.

23 Sept. 1930: Errol Boyd and Harry Connor arrive at the Harbour Grace in the Columbia. This trip would be the plane’s second to Harbour Grace in two years. (Originally the plane carried Broadway actress and socialite Mable Boll to Harbour Grace in 1928.) More info: Harbour Grace Airport Trust Co. Logbook

25 Sept. 1730: George Garland is appointed Justice of the Peace for Harbour Grace.

29 Sept. 1879: John Munn dies in Southport, Lancashire, England, at age 72.

29 Sept. 1881: Bishop Ronald McDonald arrives in Harbour Grace.

Harbour Grace Notebook: August


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1 Aug. 1901: Judge Thomas R. Bennett dies at Harbour Grace.

1 Aug. 1933: Bellanca aircraft leaves Harbour Grace for New York, USA.

2 Aug 1880: Sir Thomas Roddick marries Urelia Marion Fraser McKinnon in Montreal.

2 Aug. 1866: Thomas Harrison Ridley hosts a gala at Ridley Hall to celebrate the landing of the cable in Hearts Content.

2 Aug. 1930: City of New York aircraft, piloted by H.J. Brown and John Henry Mears, arrives in Harbour Grace

8 Aug. 1927: Work begins on construction of the Harbour Grace airstrip.

8 Aug. 1933: White Eagle aircraft, piloted by brothers Benjamin and Joseph Adamowitz, arrives in Harbour Grace. The plane later crashed on takeoff.

10 Aug. 1916: Death of Julia (Parsons) Gordon, proprietor of the Gordon Lodge. She is buried at the United Church Cemetery, Harbour Grace.

14 Aug. 1575: Robert Hayman baptized, son of Nicholas Hayman and Alice Gaverocke. More info: Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

14 Aug. 1819: Sir Henry Pynn present at a meeting of the Outinian Society, nineteenth-century society for singles. Pynn would meet his wife, Cecilia Jackson (later Lady Pynn) here. He later married her in 1821.

14 Aug. 1852: Mutual Insurance Society established.

15 Aug. 1731: Rev. James Balfour born in the parish of Banchory-Ternan, Scotland. More info: Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

15 Aug. 1874: Temperance Hall, called “the most sightly and ornate of our modern wooden structures,” formerly opens in Harbour Grace.

17 Aug. 1944: Third ‘Great Fire’ of Harbour Grace.

17 Aug. 1944: Harbour Grace United Church, fourth Methodist church, burns during third ‘Great Fire’ of Harbour Grace.

18 Aug. 1832: First ‘Great Fire’ of Harbour Grace. Flames were spread quickly by the wind, soon reaching a building which had gun-powder in the loft. The explosion which followed sent embers in all directions causing fires to break out in several other locations. This fire was devastating, and it almost destroyed the entire business community, as only three mercantile establishments survived. Also claimed by the fire were several retail stores, the Episcopalian Church, three hotels, a dozen public houses, and 100 homes. Over 600 people were left homeless. The fire notably burned the Anglican Church and Robert Crocker Bray’s house.

19 Aug. 1861: Harbour Grace Volunteer Regiment assemble on the Parade Grounds, near Military Rd. 62 officers and men are present.

20 Aug. 1862: Volunteer Rifle Corps have special turnout; prizes are awarded.

21 Aug. 1993: Spirit of Harbour Grace donated to the Town of Harbour Grace by Roger Pike.

23 Aug. 1829: Robert Stewart Munn born in Bute, Scotland. More info: Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

24 Aug. 1932: Green Mountain Boy aircraft, with pilots Clyde A. Lee and John Bochon, arrives in Harbour Grace.

25 Aug. 1932: Green Mountain Boy aircraft leaves for Oslo, Norway.

26 Aug. 1874: Dr. Dearlin lays report of the Select Committee in relation to the proposed railway to Harbour Grace on the table of the House of Assembly .

26 Aug. 1927: Work finishes on Harbour Grace airstrip. William S. Brock & Edward Schlee arrive at Harbour Grace in the Pride of Detroit.

2009932 - Pride of Detroit

Pride of Detroit in Harbour Garce

27 Aug. 1769: Sir Henry Pynn born.

27 Aug. 1903: John Shannon Munn donates Shannon Park for recreational sports (V05 N4)

27 Aug. 1927: Brock & Schlee leave Harbour Grace in the Pride of Detroit.

28 Aug. 1816: Church of England church in Harbour Grace burned. Arson suspected, and the magistrates offer 100 guineas for information.

28 Aug. 1832: Governor Henry Prescott lays the cornerstone at St. Paul’s Church.

28 Aug. 1932: Sikorsky Amphibian aircraft, with crew of Ralph Wickford, William Calder, and Louis L’Esperance, arrives in Harbour Grace

29 Aug. 1932: American poet Elizabeth Bishop walks from Brigus to Clarke’s Beach, Bay Roberts, Spaniard’s Bay and Harbour Grace. She lodges at the Cochrane House, Harbour Grace, run by Rose “Rosie” Archibald.

Elizabeth Bishop

Legendary American poet Elizabeth Bishop

29 Aug. 1950: Rev. Walter H. Macabe dedicates and opens the present-day Coughlan United Church , the fifth Methodist church in Harbour Grace.

30 Aug. 1932: Sikorsky Amphibian aircraft leaves Harbour Grace for New York, USA

30 Aug. 1830: Foundation stone of courthouse laid by Magistrate Thomas Danson, Chief of North District.

30 Aug. 1844: Teachers at the Mechanics Institute in Liverpool, England, toast John Irivng Roddick before he leaves for his next appointment: Headmaster ofthe Harbour Grace Grammar School.

31 Aug. 1788: First official Methodist church opened in Harbour Grace by John Stretton, on his own property on today’s Stretton’s Hill (“at the foot of Stretton’s Hill”).

31 Aug. 1852: Town first lit with gas.

Photo of the Day: Lady Peace Arrives at Harbour Grace, 1936

On September 18, 1936, the Lady Peace aircraft arrived at Harbour Grace from Musgrave Harbour at 7:00 p.m. NT. Its pilots, Dick Merrill and Harry Richman, had crashed landed in Man Point Marsh in the latter community and were rescued by Capt. Ed Rickerbacker, the famous World War I flying ace. Also at the airstrip were The Great Silver Fleet, a Douglas DC-2 aircraft, and three news planes from New York and Boston; this number – five – was the largest concentration of aircraft at the airstrip in its nine-year history.

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