Friday, 25 August 2017

Agriculture Yesterday and Today at the Agriculture Family Fun Day.

Exhibit openings tend to bring to mind adults standing around nibbling on canap├ęs and drinking wine while they stare contemplatively at the objects on display. But, since our goal as a museum is to engage all ages in the history of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, we decided to do something a bit different when we unveiled our new Agriculture exhibit. On August 20th, we hosted an Agriculture Family Fun Day with activities, food and give-aways to celebrate the exhibit, the history of agriculture and its continued presence in the community and across the province. The event was a huge success with visitors having the chance to see the new exhibit, take part in activities, and even learn a little bit about growing things. 

Take a look at the day in action!

We received donations of a book about the history of dairy farming in Canada that features a Newfoundland family and other goodies from School Milk Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador. Here I am, packing up the cow patterned bags for folks to take home at the event. We still have quite a few left so if you are interested stop on by the museum to pick one up!

Food First NL came and made seed bombs with us. It was a perfect day for being outside and playing with clay and dirt!

Chris from C.D.’s Trees on Marine Drive came explained how you propagate shrubs and showed us how you can prune some types into a fun shape.

Kids had fun using potatoes, turnips, and mushrooms as stamps. Vegetables can be used for all kinds of things!

One of the highlights of the day was the chance to make butter. These happy visitors are shaking jam-jars of whipped whipping cream that after about 5-10 minutes will separate into butter. This activity was such a success that we’ve incorporated sheets with the instructions into the exhibit, so now all visitors can grab a copy and try making butter at home.

What would an exhibit opening be without food? We connected the snacks to our theme of agriculture yesterday and today by making goodies with some of the things that grow in our gardens. As you can see the chocolate-mint brownies were a particularly popular item. 

And the shining star of the day was the updated exhibit. Stop by and check it out yourself. 

A HUGE thanks to Food First NL, C.D.’s Trees, SchoolMilk Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and Dairy Farmers of Newfoundlandand Labrador, the Hebron Way Starbucks, for their donations of items and time to make this even the success it was. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Cable at Middle Cove

In July 1866, the first trans-Atlantic cable made it to Heart's Content, Newfoundland, connecting North America and Europe. Over the next century, cables were landed in various coves and bays around Newfoundland, often with some difficulty given Newfoundland's rough waters and rocky shores.
Middle Cove Beach from Marine Drive. Photo by Lisa M. Daly 2017.

One such cable was landed on Middle Cove Beach in 1953. In an article in The Atlantic Guardian titled "Tales of Logy Bay", the story of one of the cable landing attempts is chronicled. This cable was owned by Cable and Wireless Limited, who were once the Direct United States Telegraph Company (DUSTC) then the Imperial and International Communications Company. They operated the harbour Grace station, which closed in 1953. In 1943, the cable that connected Halifax to Harbour Grace failed in 1943 and although attempts were made to repair it, it wasn't until 1952 with the HMTS Monarch that the cable was repaired. The following year, the HMTS Monarch was used to divert that cable from Harbour Grace to Middle Cove where it could be connected to a St. John's office.
Ridley Hall, the cable office in Harbour Grace. Image from Patrick Collins and the Conception Bay Museum.

The HMTS Monarch was the largest telegraph ship in the world. Built in 1946 on the Tyne, the ship had a gross tonnage of 8,065, a speed of 14 knots (cable laying was done at half that speed) and was such a reliable ship that other countries would wait for the Monarch to be available. In this case, the ship and 137 crew were chartered for three months with Cable and Wireless Ltd.
Middle Cove Beach from the HMTS Monarch. From LBMCOC Museum 011.21.3.
On the forth attempt to land the cable at Middle Cove, crews were working quickly to attempt to bring the cable to shore before an impeding gale. A group of fishermen were hired to help from the beach side, and could do nothing but wait to see if the cable would be lowered. Once sailors from the Monarch got their attention, the fishermen moved to the water, ready to haul the cable. The fishermen worked together to haul ropes of increasing size. These ropes were attached to a small tractor to bring the ropes further on shore to a heavy truck which brought the ropes further up the road. The heavy ropes and cables were buoyed by empty oil drums, which, as they were dragged to the beach, were removed by the Newfoundlanders working that day. The drums were brought, by boat, back to the water to be attached once again to the heavy rope.
From Middle Cove Beach. Note the oil drums being used as buoys. From the LBMCOC Museum 011.21.1.
The afternoon continued, and there was no apparent change in the weather, but at 2:15pm, a signal was sent to cease pulling in the cable, and the sailors worked to cut the rope, collect the buoys, and return to the ship. The fifth attempt, a few days later, finally saw the cable land at Middle Cove.
Fishermen cutting a drum from the line. From Strawbridge 1954.
The cable itself was one in in diameter and weighed 2.6 tons per mile. It measured a total distance of 15,252 miles. The core of the cable was insulated with Telcothene, a product developed by Telcon which enabled much higher carrier frequencies meaning more speech channels could be carried over the one conductor.
A view of Middle Cove Beach, the fishermen and sailors working to pull in the cable, and the HMTS Monarch. From the LBMCOC Museum 011.21.2.


Dean, J.N.
2017 The Anglo-Dutch Telephone CableHistory of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications from the First Submarine Cable of 1850 to the Worldwide Fiber Optic Network. [accessed 13 Aug 2017].

Glover, B.
2017 Direct United States Cable Company. History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications from the First Submarine Cable of 1850 to the Worldwide Fiber Optic Network. [accessed 13 Aug 2017].

Strawbridge, M.S.
1954 Tales of Logy Bay. Atlantic Guardian, 11(1): 17-21.

Tarrant, D.R.
1994 Telegraph and Telephone Companies. Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, 5:346-352.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Letters from Father Dan O'Callaghan

Father Daniel O'Callaghan was born January 29, 1875 in South Down, Ireland. He came to St. John's in 1907 on request from Archbishop Howley. He was ordained the same year in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and was appointed to the staff of the Cathedral. He remained there for four years and in 1912, was appointed Parish Priest of St. Bride's Parish in Placentia East where he stayed for five years. In 1918, he was assigned as first Parish Priest for Logy Bay, Middle Cove and Outer Cove and was in charge of organizing the construction of a church, which would be called St. Francis of Assisi Church. He is also credited in the erection of a school and presbytery. He remained at the church for thirty years until his death in 1948.

Father Dan O'Callaghan
©Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum
The museum archives holds two letters written by Father Dan O'Callaghan. One written in 1903 addressed to Right Reverend Howley and the other in 1917 addressed to Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche. Father Dan goes into great detail about his schooling and his desire to come to Newfoundland in the first letter. He started school late due to an illness which prevented him from his studies. Upon entering school later he describes that he is "advanced in his years" and that he "worked extremely hard, in hopes of shortening my college career... So much so, that before Christmas vacation, my eyes became very weak from over study." His writing shows his devotion to becoming a priest. We learn in the letter that his sister has also entered religion and moving to Newfoundland would allow them to live closer together. The letter goes on to describing his sister's credentials and their willingness to move. We know that he indeed made it to Newfoundland!
1903 Letter from Father Dan O'Callaghan
©Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum
The next letter we have is written fourteen years later. This letter is very interesting as Father Dan discusses how the men of Flatrock are subjected to scornful remarks, unfair and unjust treatment from "patriots" because they have not volunteered for the war. It even went as far as Flatrock men being refused ice field berths. One can only imagine how this would have hurt Flatrock men economically! Father Dan discouraged the men of Flatrock from volunteering. He is known to have told his parishioners that there was "no pride in standing under the British rag."
1917 Letter from Father Dan O'Callaghan
©Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum
Another interesting part of this letter is the story about Flatrock men in the Mediterranean and an epic rescue that occurred on November 11, 1916. Thomas Maher saved Patrick Bulger who was thrown overboard into the dark, raging sea after a large wave hit their ship. Thomas Maher was asleep in his bed when he heard shouting and knocking and rushed from his bed in his night clothes and jumped overboard to save Maher. The story goes that,
"after both had been taken under by the heavy seas Bulger gasped out to Maher asking the latter to save himself and let him (Bulger) drown, as (so he thought) it was impossible for both to be saved. But Maher clung to the drowning man and managed to grasp a heavy rope that was flung to him by the Captain, and gripping Bulger around the body with his limbs arranged to fasten the rope under his arms and thus he was taken aboard. Maher following and a few hours later was on duty on time."
A very heroic rescue! Father Dan continues to write that he is looking for Archbishop Roche's influence to get recognition for the men. He also writes, "Your Grace, this deed is not that of a “slacker” as we are termed by some of the “patriots” of St. John’s." These letters teach us a lot about Father Dan as well as what was going at the time in Newfoundland when these letters were written.

The Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum Archives houses a variety of material. If you are interested in reading the full letters or seeing what else we have keep your eye on the Digital Archives Initiative as a lot of our archives will be accessible there. Can't wait? Stop by the museum during our business hours and take a look at what we have!

"A Talk Given at the Banquet Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the First Mass in the Parish Church, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Outer Cove. Given by: Reverend Francis A. Coady, Vicar General, & Former Pastor." Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum Archives, St. Francis of Assisi Church Fonds.

"The response o some Irish Newfoundlanders to the Great War." Archival Moments. Accessed 5 August 2017,