Thursday, 13 August 2015

Delores "Tubby" Kinsella

The daughter of a woman who taught at St. Francis of Assisi donated a series of hand-made yearbooks to the museum last week. When reading through these books, I came across an entry that was made by our very own former Heritage Committee Chair, Delores Wheeler (nee Kinsella).

Her entry reads:
     "My name is Delours 'Tubby' Kinsella. My eyes are green and my hair is brown.
     I was born on August 7th 1958 in St. Claire's Hospital.
     We have ten in the family, nine girls and one boy.
     The hobby I like most is collecting stamps to help the sick.
     I have something that interests me and that is swimming. It interests me because it is something to do in the summertime. 
     My favorite joke is
     Q, What did the man say when he threw the clock through the window
     A, He said, 'See how time flies?'" 

I asked Delores where the nickname "Tubby" came from, and she replied:

     "I was a little 'chunky' when I was young and one of my nicknames was 'Tubby'.   We all had nicknames that suited different occasions back then."

She went on to explain the mispelling of her name in the entry:

     "You'll notice my name is spelled different from now. When I got in Grade 7 my teacher told me I was spelling my name wrong.  I started spelling it the correct way"

Delores was on the original Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Heritage Committee. She, and the other members, established this museum in 1997. A trip to Trinity made her realize that her own community needed a museum to preserve its rich and unique history.

It seems Delores has always liked helping others, as her childhood hobby was "collecting stamps to help the sick." Delores retired from the committee this year, after twenty years of devoted service to her community. She is an incredible woman, and as you can see in the photo above, an adorable little girl. 

-Katie Harvey

Friday, 7 August 2015

Regatta History: The Outer Cove Fishermen's Crew

On this day in 1901, history was made.

It was the 85th annual Royal St. John's Regatta.

"Not a cloud was visible in the blue canopy of the heavens and the
sun shone so hot that one could scarcely turn his eyes towards the
skies for its dazzling brightness. Just a slight breeze was blowing 
which covered the lake with gentle ripples and added fourfold to its great natural beauty." - The Evening Telegram, 1901

A rivalry between Outer Cove and Torbay had been ongoing for years. Torbay had beaten Outer Cove by the slightest of margins in the morning race, so tensions were running at an all time high.

The Outer Cove Fishermen's Crew was made up of the following men: Walter Power, coxswain; John Whelan, stroke; Daniel McCarthy, No.5; Denis McCarthy, No. 4; Denis Croke, No. 3; John Nugent, No. 2; Martin Boland No. 1. 

They entered the waters that afternoon for the championship race in their soon-to-be-famous vessel, the Blue Peter. They were facing off with their sole competitor: Torbay. It was said that no other team would dare to face off with these outstanding crews. The rivals anxiously awaiting the piercing gun shot that signified the start of the race. 

The two crews were neck in neck, until the very end, as Outer Cove crossed the finish line, setting a new record time of 9:134/5The crew had not trained in the typical way competitors train for the regatta nowadays, their sole practice was rowing their dories on the open ocean every other day.   

The most amazing part of this story is that their record stood for 80 years. The Outer Cove Fishermen's Crew were among the first to be inducted into the Royal St. John's Regatta Hall of fame after it was established in 1987. 

Their record time of  9:134/remained until 1981, when the St. John's Boys and Girls Club established a new record time: 9:12:04.
However, their victory was short lived. The following year, Mike Power assembled a crew to take back the championship. The crew consisted of Andrew Boland, Bert Hickey, Campbell Feehan, Gerard Ryan, Jim Hibbs and Owen Devereaux. The men, filled with determination, finished the race in the outstanding time of 9:03:48. Outer Cove rejoiced, as the record once again belonged to them.

If you ask anyone in the community what Outer Cove is most famous for, they will proudly tell you the story of the 1901 Fishermen's Crew; "the finest crew to grace the waters of Quidi Vidi."

-Katie Harvey

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Coincidental Account of Annie Burke and Nellie Fitzgerald

There is a heart-warming story that exists in this community, and it has been relayed to me by several visitors here at the museum. The narrative is of two Newfoundland woman who, completely by chance, ended up living side-by-side in Boston. Their names were Annie Burke (nee Cadigan) and Nellie Fitzgerald (nee Gibbons).

Annie Burke (nee Cadigan) ca. 1915

Annie Cadigan was born in 1891, and grew up in the community of Logy Bay. When she was 12 years old, she fell through a fishing stage and severely injured her leg. Local doctors believed her leg was irreversibly damaged, and so advised that it be amputated. Her sister, Mary, lived in Boston, and thought it may be best to have her sister come and see a Doctor whom she knew there, Dr. O'Shea. 

Nellie Fitzgerald (nee Gibbons) ca. 1914

Nellie Gibbons was born in the Redlands on the north shore of Conception Bay in 1888. She and a fellow named James Fitzgerald were writing to one another, and the courtship landed her in Boston in 1909. 

Annie arrived in Boston in 1905. Her sister was right to put her faith in Dr. O'Shea, as Annie's leg quickly healed under his care. After her recovery, she decided to stay in Boston and work as a cook in the O'Shea household. Dr. O'Shea began to take Annie with him on house calls, and so she became quite familiar with medical practices. 

Nellie was hired by the Harrington family as a governess shortly after her arrival in Boston. The Harrington's and the O'Shea's were neighbours, and so the girls became fast friends, both being young women from Newfoundland. 

The story that both women told often, and fondly, was the fourth of July they spent together. They decided they would have a sleep over at the O'Shea's house after a day of fun. When they arrived home, the house was dark, as everyone had gone to bed. They went to Annie's room and discovered, much to their dismay, that her bed had been stripped of its linens. 

Annie went to the linen closet and palmed through the sheets in the dark until she found what she thought was a bed sheet. The girls spread it over the bed and went to sleep. When they awoke the next morning they were shocked to discover they had slept on one of Mrs. O'Shea's decorative table cloth. Fortunately, Annie was able to wash, press and return the tablecloth without anyone noticing, narrowly avoiding a scolding from the lady of the house.

Annie returned to Newfoundland in 1914 to marry James Burke. Nellie was engaged to James Fitzgerald, the man who brought her to Boston in the first place, and they intended to stay in Boston. The girls lost touch when Annie returned home.

Nellie and James' plans soon changed when his father died and they had to return to Newfoundland to care for his mother. Annie had no idea that Nellie had returned to Newfoundland, until one faithful day in 1949.  

Nellie's youngest daughter, Theresa, was brought to the home of Annie by the boy she was dating. She sat in astonishment as Annie recounted that fourth of July in Boston, when her and a friend mistakenly slept on a tablecloth. Theresa had heard that same story from her own mother so many times, she could hardly believe her ears.

Annie Burke's house, where her door was always open to visitors (ca. 2003)

Theresa went home and asked her mother the name of the woman she had been friends with in Boston, and it was indeed Annie Burke, the woman she had met earlier that day.

The kids decided they would surprise the old friends by bringing Nellie to Annie's for a visit. It had been 36 years since the women had last seen each other. Nellie was not yet out of the car, and Annie was running to greet her old friend. She swooped her up in a hug and swung her around and around. It was as if they had never been apart at all.

Annie died in 1981 at 91 years old, and Nellie followed in 1983, at 94 years of age. Their children kept in touch over the years, and their great-grandchildren even attended school together.

As an aside, Annie put her experience as Dr. O'Shea's helper to good use. She was a midwife in the community for many years, and delivered hundreds of babies. If you ask someone in the community if they know of Annie Burke, they will likely tell you one or more of their relatives were delivered by this exceptional woman. 

Annie was also believed to have "the gift of second-sight." She often invited people into her home to read their tea leaves or cards. Many people still talk about her gift to this day.

-Katie Harvey

Source: The Story of Annie (Cadigan) Burke and Nellie (Gibbons) Fitzgerald by Maria Clift and Hayley Walsh

We have this heritage project in our resource room here at the museum, if you would like to learn more about this incredible story, drop by and take a look.