ST. JOHN’S, the capital of Newfoundland, lies in 47° 33′ 33″ north latitude and 52° 45′ 10″ west longitude from Greenwich, and 10° 52′ east of Halifax. Magnetic variation in 1828, 28° 47′ westerly.
The first authentic record of St. John’s is given in a letter to King Henry VIII., by John Rut, in 1527, who was at that time employed on a fishing voyage. This is recorded by Hackluyt, one of the earliest writers on Newfoundland.
The capital is situate on the most eastern part of the coast, in the Bay of St. John, which, however, is but a slight indentation of the coast. On approaching St. John’s from the sea, the shores present an air of grandeur and sublimity. The coast for miles consists of old red sandstone and conglomerate, from four to six hundred feet in height, presenting an almost perpendicular wall, which resists the unbroken surges of the Atlantic Ocean that incessantly thunder at its base.
In the summer season this wall of nature’s masonry is adorned with touches of the beautiful the interstices and crevices of the sublime cliffs are clotted with glass, wild flowers, plants, and shrubs of various kinds, the green foliage of which trailing along the red surface of the rocks, gives it a picturesque and romantic appearance.
I have seen no part of America that can compare with the grandeur of the Newfoundland coast. The Palisades or high lands on the River Hudson, in New York, may probably bear some resemblance. The Saguenay river, in Canada, strongly reminded me of the coast about St. John’s.
St. John’s is one of the finest harbours in Newfound-land, where a vessel might in a few minutes shoot from the stormy Atlantic into a secure haven, and ride at anchor completely land-locked, in from four to ten fathoms of water, on a mud bottom. The entrance to St. John’s is very narrow, which is therefore called the ” Narrows.” The channel from point to point, that is, from Signal Hill on the north side to Fort Amherst on the south side, is 220 fathoms across ; but it widens just within the points, then again gets narrower on approaching Chain Rock, from which to Pancake Rock the distance is only 95 fathoms across, after which it expands into a beautiful sheet of water, one and a quarter miles long, and about half a mile wide. In war times a chain used to be thrown across from Chain to Pancake Rocks. On each side of the Narrows are lofty cliffs, five hundred and six hundred feet in altitude, studded with forts and batteries, while a short distance to the right is seen Cuckold’s Head and Sugar Loaf, towering in solitary grandeur above all the surrounding coast. Bishop Mullock says :
” St. John’s is placed almost in the centre of the peninsula of Avalon, on the nearest point to Europe, with a port the most secure perhaps in the world, fortified by nature, and only requiring a very moderate outlay, and a few thousand brave soldiers, to make it, I may say, impregnable the Gibraltar or Sebastapol of the North Atlantic. A fleet of war steamers stationed in St. John’s, sheltered by the guns of Signal Hill and Southside batteries, would give the command of the North Atlantic to West Britain, and with Bermuda, paralyze the commerce of the entire seaboard of the neighbouring continent. I consider St. John’s and Bermuda as the two great bastions of North America.”
At Fort Ambrose, on the south side, the harbour light-house is situated, which is also a signal station. There is another signal station at the north side on Signal Hill. As soon, therefore, as a ship hoves in sight at Cape Spear (which is eight miles distant, and is also a signal station, with a splendid lighthouse), she is telegraphed to the principal station on Signal Hill, and as soon as she approached the south entrance of the Narrows, an artillery-man on duty, with trumpet in hand, used to walk to the edge of the rocky precipice, and hail” From whence came you.” Vessels acquainted with the trade usually chalked on the quarter the number of days on the pas-sage, also their name, if they carried no distinguishing flag. The city of St. John’s (since 1839 St. John’s has been called a city, owing to a Protestant bishop being at that time appointed it is not incorporated) stands principally on the north side of the harbour, on hills of slight acclivity, on the western one of which, in 1762, the French took a determined stand against the English batteries. The south side of the harbour is formed by a lofty and unbroken range of hills which plunges into the water at an angle of about 70°, which is lined with wharves, ware-houses, oil manufactories, and some dwelling-houses.
St. John’s was twice destroyed by the French. Some relics of their dominion are still to be seen. It is said the stone buildings at Fort William were erected for their commander, and some chairs, with the fleur-de-lis, which belonged to the commandant, are also yet in existence.
It will be seen by the following letter, addressed to Mr. Hutchins, whose descendants are now some of the principal inhabitants of St. Johns, that down to 1790 no tavern or house of entertainment was allowed to be set up, neither was the soil to be cultivated :
” Letter from the Governor, M. K. Milbanke, to George Hutchins, Esq., dated Government House, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 15th October, 1790.
” SIR,I have considered your request respecting the alteration which you wish to make in your storehouse near the waterside, and as it appears that the alteration will not be in any ways injurious to the fishery, you have hereby permission to make it. As to Alexander Long’s house, which has been built contrary to His Majesty’s express commands, made known to the inhabitants of this place by my proclamation of the 13th of last October, it must and shall come down. The pretence now set up of its being intended for a craft-house serves rather to aggravate than extenuate the offence, for by the confession of your tenant to the magistrate who forbade him to go on with the work after it was begun, as well as to me when I viewed the house on Saturday last, no such use was to be made of it : as he said it was intended only as a covering to his potato cellar, though there is a complete chimney, if not two in it, and lodging for at least six or eight dieters. I shall embrace this opportunity of warning you against making an improper use of any other part of (what you are pleased to call) your ground, for you may rest assured that every house or other building erected upon it hereafter, without the permission in writing of the Governor for the time being except such building and erection as shall be actually on purpose for the curing, salting, drying and husbanding of fish, which the fishermen from any part of His Majesty’s European dominions, qualified agreeable to the Act of the 10th and 11th of William the Third, and the 15th of George the Third, have a right to erect without asking permission must unavoidably be taken down and removed, in obedience to His Majesty’s said commands. And it may not be amiss at the same time to inform you, I am also directed not to allow any possession as private property to be taken of, or any right of property whatever to be acknowledged in any land whatever which is not actually employed in the fishery, in terms of the aforementioned Act, whether possessed by pretended grants from former Governors or from any other no matter what unwarrantable pretences therefore it behoves you, with all possible despatch, to employ the whole of the ground which you can lay claim to in the fishery, lest others should profit by your neglect, and make that use of it which the Legislature of Great Britain intended should be made of all the land in this country, and without which no one has a right to claim it as his own. The sheriff will have directions about the removal of the house above mentioned, which you will no doubt assist him in executing.
Up to 1811, St. John’s consisted of one long, narrow, dirty street, with irregular blocks of low wooden hidings, interspersed with fish flakes. In the above year, however, important alterations were made by Admiral Duckworth, who was then Governor, under authority of an Act of Parliament, the ” ships’ rooms ” were divided into building and water lots, and measures were adopted for the general improvement of the town. From this period the place began to rise into importance, for until the year above named no building could be erected in any part of Newfoundland without the permission of the Governor, in order to prevent settlement.
On the 12th of February, 1816, a most destructive fire desolated a great part of the town of St. John’s. The property destroyed is said to have amounted to more than £100,000 sterling, or 8500,000. When the intelligence of this calamitous event reached the ” City of the Pilgrims,” Boston, the Capital of the ” Old Bay State,” a deep and powerful sympathy was excited among her citizens for the destitution of 1,500 human beings left homeless and penniless amid the frost and storms of a Newfoundland winter Burying in oblivion the recollection that the year previous the two countries were hostile to each other, and regardless of the disputed right of fishing on the Banks, which right America wished to claim but Britain was unwilling to concede, the noble and disinterested citizens only remembered the claims of their suffering fellow-creatures upon their hospitality. A vessel was immediately loaded with provisions, which were sent to be distributed gratuitously among the distressed in-habitants of St. John’s, where she arrived and delivered her valuable cargo. To brave the storms of a winter passage to Newfoundland, at that period, was considered a most daring and hazardous enterprise.
In the following year, 1817, on the night of the 7th of November, another immense fire broke out at St. John’s and in nine hours destroyed thirteen mercantile establishments (well stocked with provisions) and one hundred and forty dwelling-houses. The estimated value of the property thus destroyed was £500,000, or *2,000,000. This distressing calamity was succeeded by another, on the 21st of the same month, when fifty-six more houses, besides stores and wharves were consumed. During the winter, great distress prevailed in consequence of these fires ; and, owing to the failure of the crops in various parts of Europe, the usual quantities of supplies had not been imported in the fall, and the merchants, seeing the great improbability of receiving any immediate returns for their goods, circumscribed the accustomed credit system. Numbers of the inhabitants, rendered desperate by want, began to break open the stores. Volunteer companies were immediately embodied and armed to prevent further depredations, and committees of relief were formed to issue small quantities of food at stated periods.
St. John’s has since been visited by several smaller fires. In 1839, a block of houses on the north side of Water Street, comprising fifteen tenements, were consumed ; and, in 1840, the Exchange and other buildings were destroyed.
The next great fire with which St. John’s was visited was on the 9th of June, 1846, but, like the Phoenix, it always rises better, brighter, and more triumphant from its ashes. The great fire of the 9th of June took place when all the mercantile establishments were well stocked with every article of merchandize, and seal vats full of oil.
” On the morning of Tuesday,” says the Morning Courier newspaper (published a few days after the fire), the sun rose on St. John’s a busy mart ; its population arose from the slumbers of the previous night, and applied themselves to the occupations of the day, with the hope that it would be done as the days that had gone before ; and ere that sun had set, at least three-fourths of the town, including the whole of the business part of it, were in ashes.
” About seven o’clock in the evening the work of destruction may be said to have been completed, so that in ten hours and a half our town was almost entirely destroyed, and the moon rose in cloudless splendour, throwing her mild light on a home-less population, who stood viewing, with intense anguish the smoking ruins of their habitations. Besides the two men that were killed, we have heard of another aged man who had contrived to save his bed and some valuables, and while struggling along to a place of safety with a load too heavy for his strength, fell down and expired.
“It is but justice to His Excellency, the Governor, to state, that he remained in the vicinity of the fire till a late hour. We also observed Lieut.-Colonel Law, Major Robe, and all the other officers of the Garrison actively engaged during the whole day. The troops were turned out for the protection of property on the first alarm, and guards were posted for the night, wherever thought necessary.
” A cold night succeeded a day eventful to the inhabitants of St. John’s, and far the greater portion of them spent it under the canopy of heaven. The open ground in front of Government House down towards Gower Street, was occupied by numerous family groups sitting beside the portions of their furniture saved from the flames. It was a sad sight to see shivering mothers endeavouring to shelter their little babes, and to hush them to sleep ; while the cries of the older ones for food had in many cases to be answered by ‘ wait ’till day-light, and we shall try to get some for you.’
” A great number of mercantile establishments were destroyed, besides those we have named : were we to attempt a complete list, we should have to name every firm except the solitary one of Messrs. Newman and Co., which is the only one now in St. John’s that has either a store or an office, except the stores on the south side of the harbour.
” We never saw a fire spread with such awful rapidity ; the flames seemed actually to leap from roof to roof ; and the noise of the burning mass could be compared to nothing that we ever heard, except the roaring of the cataract of Niagara. The crash of falling materials was heard above the deep sound of the advancing flames, as roof after roof fell in at short intervals.”
By this awful contlagation, upwards of 2,000 houses were consumed, and property to the amount of £800,000, or $4,000,000, destroyed.
The day after the fire, the principal inhabitants of the town attended a meeting at Government House, at which a committee was appointed for the relief of the distressed. A military patrol was appointed to protect the property in the town, and Sir John Harvey, the Governor, issued a Proclamation placing an embargo on all shipping about to leave the port ; and Mr. Hele, R.N., master of Her Majesty’s Ship Vindictive, who was at the time in the colony, offered his services to search all vessels leaving the port, to prevent the removal of any unnecessary quantity of provisions. Lieutenant Chambers’s, R.N.C., yacht was moored as a guard-ship in the Narrows, and all the available military tents were pitched at the rear of the Roman Catholic Cathedral, to afford shelter to the houseless. Two vessels were despatched to New York and Halifax for provisions.
On the intelligence of the fire at St. John’s reaching Halifax, a public meeting of the citizens was convened, and a committee appointed to receive donations for the sufferers. A quantity of provisions were shipped immediately by the mail steamer “Unicorn,” Captain Meagher, for St. John’s, which was the first supply received after the fire.
The British Government gave a munificent donation of £30,000, or $150,000, to which was added, under the sanction of the Queen’s letter, addressed to the Arch-bishops of Canterbury and York, to make collections in the Churches of England, the further sum of £31,516, or .$157,580 ; making a total of £61,516, or $307,580 ; in addition to which the sum of $106,236 was received from various parts of Great Britain, Ireland, the British Colonies and United States, equal to £26,557 16s. 4d. currency, or $106,236.
From QUEBEC, per Industry :33 barrels flour ; 100 barrels oatmeal ; 93 barrels peas ; 67 barrels Indian meal ; 25 boxes window glass ; 50 pieces deals; 500 boards ; 1 keg tobacco ; 3 cases ; 3 boxes ; 1 trunk ; 1 bale and 2 barrels clothing and merchandise. Per Orion :7 barrels oatmeal ; 2 boxes window glass ; 1 keg nails ; 8 M shingles, and 2 pair shoes.
From MONTREAL, per St. Croix : 549 barrels flour ; 318 barrels pork ; 32 bags bread : 42 kegs butter ; 200 pieces deals ; 500 boards ; 14 kegs nails ; 7 cases and 6 bales clothing and merchandise. Per Thistle :495 barrels flour ; 187 barrels pork ; 21 bags bread ; 158 bags peas ; 250 boxes window glass ; 200 pieces deals ; 500 hoards ; 1 case ; 3 parcels ; and 1 bale clothing and merchandise,
From NEW YORK, per St. Margaret : 731 barrels flour ; 100 barrels pork ; 100 kegs butter.
From HALIFAX, per Star:1,055 barrels flour. Per Uni-corn :360 barrels flour ; 100 barrels pork, and 1 box clothing. Per Dove :1 2 barrels flour ; 2 barrels pork ; 1 case ; 3 parcels clothing ; 1 bale tinware ; 1 nest pails.
From KENTVILLE, per Unicorn : 1 box clothing, and 1 keg cheese.
From EXETER, per Sir Robert Peel :7 bales clothing, &c., &c.
From STEWIACKE (Colchester), per Unicorn :1 bale clothing.
TOTAL3,223 barrels flour ; 700 barrels pork ; 53 bags bread ; 142 kegs butter ; 100 barrels oatmeal ; 93 barrels and 158 bags peas ; 67 barrels Indian meal ; 275 boxes window glass ; 450 pieces deals ; 1,500 boards ; 14 kegs nails ; 1 keg tobacco ; 11 cases ; 5 boxes ; 3 parcels ; 1 trunk ; 16 bales, and 2 barrels clothing and merchandise ; 8 M shingles ; 2 pair shoes.
Out of the money collected under the sanction of the Queen’s letter, £15,00() or S75,000, with the consent of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, were appropriated towards the erection of a Protestant Cathedral, in the room of the Church which had been destroyed by the fire.
These appropriations caused great dissatisfaction. Public meetings were held, and memorials sent to the Home Government on the subject. It must be confessed, however, that the Governor was constantly appealed to in aid of cases of distress, most of which were consequent on the fire, which caused, we presume, the large expenditure in provisions.
Some of the persons employed by the ” Relief Commit-tee” were paid handsome sums, who were then in receipt of a competent salary, and who had suffered nothing by fire. The Legislature voted $10,000 for the erection of a convent, and $2,000 for a school-house attached ; which were destroyed by the fire, and which ought to have been taken from the fire-funds instead of from the revenue of the colony, which was then insufficient to meet the expenditure by many thousand pounds.
St. John’s, unlike the towns of the neighbouring colonies, is not divided into squares, or laid out into streets intersecting each other at right angles. It has three principal streets (Water, Duckworth, and Gower), running parallel with each other, and with the harbour, about two miles. There are several cross streets, the principal ones are Cochrane Street, fronting Government House ; Queen street, and Prescott street. Since the fire, the streets have been widened and otherwise improved, and stately stone and brick dwelling-houses, shops, and a long range of large and commodious warehouses have taken the place of the low wooden buildings, which before, for the most part, occupied Water street. Many of these buildings will compare with the cities of the neighbouring colonies.
The Public Buildings of St. John are, the Colonial Building. From the granting of a Representative Constitution, in 1832, the Legislature met in the Court House, a wooden building, which was always felt to be too small and inconvenient for such a purpose. No effort, however, was made for the erection of a Legislative Building, until the destruction of the Court House by the fire in 184G. Since then a fine building has been erected, with a staff of officers, and of which Captain W. J. Coen is Governor.
The erection of the present Parliament Building Was commenced in 1847, and opened for the sitting of the Legislature in 1850. It is a rectangular form, and. built of white limestone, finely wrought, imported from Cork, Ireland. The cost of the building was about £20,000 or $100,000.
The aspect of the building is almost due south, looking towards the harbour, and it extends 110 feet north, by 88 from east to west. The front entrance is approached from the Military Road, the ground being thence gradually brought to a considerable elevation, through a portico supported by six massive columns of the Ionic Order, surmounted by an elegantly executed pediment, representing the Royal Arms ; the pillars are nearly 30 feet high. The height of the floor of the portico from the ground is about 12 feet, and to the top of the pediment, about .55 feet.
The entire of the building, externally, is of cut stone, with moulded architraves to windows and doors, and en-tablature corresponding all round. The Legislative Halls, for the sitting of the General Assembly and the Legislative Council, are each 30 by 50 feet. The building also affords accommodation for House-keeper’s family, Treasurer’s office, Surveyor-General’s office, &c.
The foundation stone of this edifice was laid by His Excellency Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant. Underneath the stone are placed some wheat, the produce of the Island, and a tin canister, containing some newspapers, British coins, and the following inscription engrossed on parchment :
” The foundation stone of this building was laid on the 24th day of May, in the tenth year of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Anno Domini 1817, by His Excellency Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant, Knight, K. F. and K. C. S., Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and its dependencies.
The Government House.This building was commenced in 1825, and finished in 1828. It is built of cut stone, some of which was obtained from the South-side Hills, and the remainder imported. The west wing of the building was formerly occupied by the Colonial Secretary’s and Clerk’s offices. It is much larger than either of the Government Houses of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. It is destitute of exterior architectural ornament, but possesses superior interior accommodation. This building is said to have cost 150,000, or $200,000. The grounds around Government House were planted some years ago with trees, but owing to the exposed situation they did not thrive well. On the arrival of the Governor, Sir John Gaspard le Marchant, the grounds were laid out into grass plots, shrubberies, flower gardens, potato-fields, and wheat plots, and otherwise embellished and beautified. In front of the building is a circular or crescent walk, called the ” Mall,” which is a public promenade, where, during the rule of Sir John Harvey, the military band used to assemble twice a week to play for the gratification of the public; but, unlike the people of Halifax, few of the citizens of St. John’s assembled to listen to the martial strains of music.
The Custom House.This building was finished in 1848, the former one having been destroyed by the fire in 1846. It is built of brick, with stone cornices and architraves of windows and doors and colonade. It is 51 feet long, 36 broad, and 29 feet high, and cost about $24,000. In front of the building is the Queen’s Wharf and warehouses. In the foundation stone is deposited a tin case, containing a few of the current British coins and the following inscription
” The foundation-stone of this building was laid on the 3rd day of May, in the tenth year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty-seven, by His Excellency Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant, Knight, and Knight Commander of the Order of St. Ferdinand and Charles III. of Spain, Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland. and its dependencies, in presence of.
The Hon. James Morton Spearman, Collector of Her Majesty’s Customs.
The Hon. James Crowdy, Colonial Secretary.
The Hon. Patrick Morris, Colonial Treasurer.
The Hon. Joseph Noad, Surveyor-General.
The Hon. Edward Mortimer Archibald, Her Majesty’s Attorney-General.
Lieut-Colonel Robert Law, K.H., commanding Her Majesty’s Troops.
Lieut.-Colonel Alexander W. Robe, commanding Royal Engineers.
Lieut.-Colonel Henry R. Wright, commanding Royal Artillery . Thomas C. Weir, Esq., Assistant-Commissary-General. William Jenkins, Lieutenant Royal Newfoundland Companies, and Acting Fort Major.
William Parker, Contractors and Builders.
John Macpherson, Clerk of the Work.”
The Hospital, which is a spacious wooden building, is situated at Riverhead,
The Factory, a large wooden building, the upper part of which is used as a public hall, and the ground floor is occupied by persons who are employed making wearing apparel, nets, etc.
The Merchant’s Exchange, which is occupied chiefly as a reading-room, is built of stone, and has one spacious and elegant room, besides several smaller ones occupied as offices by various persons.
The Bank of British North America (now called the Commercial Bank), is built of brick and stone, embellished with a superb front which is quite an ornament to the city, and of which Robert Brown, Esq., is manager.
The Post-office is a fine stone building, near which is the telegraph office. The Orphan Asylum School is a large wooden edifice, belonging to the Benevolent Irish Society, in which a large number of children are educated.
The Union Bank is located on Water Street, of which John W. Smith, Esq., is manager.
The Market House.This building is situated on Water Street about the centre of the city and built in 1849. It is a large and handsome building, built chiefly of stone obtained on the site of the building, with facing of Nova Scotia cut freestone, in which is placed the town clock. The lower story of the building is occupied as the Market House, and the second story which fronts on Duckworth street, is occupied as the Court House, in which the Supreme and Circuit Courts sit. Here also is located the Registrar’s and other offices.
The Church of England School Society for Newfound-land and the colonies, is a large brick building capable of accommodating several hundred children.
The Colonial School at Maggotty Cove is a neat wooden structure. There is also the College and School of the Church of England. The Roman Catholic College, and the Methodist and Presbyterian School Houses.
The Protestant Cathedral is a large and magnificent building, 120 feet long, 56 feet broad, with tower and spire 130 feet high. It is partly built of stone obtained in the island, and partly of cut stone imported from England, Ireland and France. It is estimated to have cost $200,000. It was opened for worship by the Right Rev. Dr. Field, the Lord Bishop of the diocese, in 1850.
” The naive of this church is all that has yet been erected and finished, but it is in strict conformity with the original de-sign of the entire building, and of the pointed gothic or ecclesiastical style of architecture. The finish externally and internally is characteristic, elaborate and beautiful; the carvings upon the oaken pulpit, the desks and seats are splendidly executed, as is also the sculpture of the heads upon the various arches. The communion table is formed of a deep slab of white marble upon a frame of oak ; the roof is of hardwood timber stained, and appears like oak ; a hot air apparatus, sufficient to temper the atmosphere within the church in the coldest weather, is arranged beneath the flagged floor ; a small but powerful organ has been set up, and the appearance generally of the interior is rendered most solemn and impressive by the mellowed and subdued light admitted through the lofty pointed windows. It is, so far, a magnificent building, and when the transcepts, tower and chancel shall have been completed, it will rank amongst the finest buildings in British America.”
Collections are now being taken up by Bishop Kelley for the finishing of the building.
The Roman Catholic Cathedrala great proportion of the stone for this building was obtained in Conception Bay, from Kelly’s Island. The whole exterior of the building is faced with cut lime stone and Irish granite. The cathedral is in the form of the Latin cross, with two towers 138 feet high. Its extreme length is 237 feet, the length of transcepts, 180 feet; breadth of naive, 60 feet, and of transcepts 60 feet ; with an ambulatory twelve feet in breadth, connected with the main body of the church by a screen of square massive pillars and semi-circular arches. The height of the walls to the naive course is 60 feet. It was opened for Worship in January, 1850, b, the Right Rev. Dr. Fleming, Sr., Bishop, assisted by Bishop Mullock, Archbishop Hughes, of New York, and Bishop McKinnon from Arichat, Nova Scotia.
St. Thomas, Church of England, is a wooden building with a spire ; this is where the military used to attend, and usually the Governor and family. The Rev. Thomas M. Wood is curate of this church and rural dean of Avalon.
St. Andrew’s, Church of Scotland, is a neat wooden building with a spire 110 feet high, erected in 1847.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church is a spacious brick edifice, with stone facings, erected in 1857, and another at River’s Head.
The Congregational Church is a neat stone building, erected in 185:3.
There is a fine stone Church of England (St. Marys), on the south side of St. John’s harbour; and a Roman Catholic stone church near the River Head.
The Presbyterian (Free) Church, was erected in 1850. It is built of wood, and is said to be a very neat and elegant structure. For a view, and more detailed account of the churches, the reader is referred to ” Wandering Thoughts,” published by the author in 184G. The convent is a stone edifice near the cathedral. The Presentation Convent, a large and beautiful wooden structure was destroyed by fire in 1846. A splendid Presentation Convent has been erected near the cathedral, with which it is connected by a passage leading to the chancel. A school house is attached to the convent. The whole erected of cut stone ; cost 17,000 or 828,000. The foundation stone of this building was laid in 1850 by Dr. Mullock, the Bishop. With the foundation stone was laid, deposited in a block of granite, a vase containing several medals, currents coins, the seal of the late Bishop Dr. Fleming, the names of the clergy of the colony, of the Bishops of Ireland, of His Holiness the Pope, periodical journals of the day published in Newfoundland, some wheat, the growth of the Island in 1848, together with a scroll bearing the following inscription :
” The Foundation Stone of this Convent of the Nuns of the Presentation Order (first established in the city of St. John’s in MDCCCXXIII. by the Right Rev. M. A. FLEMING, O.S.F., Bishop of Newfoundland) was laid by the Right Rev. JOHN THOMAS MULLOCK, O.S.F., Bishop of Newfoundland, on the XXIII. day of August, MDCCCL. in the V. year of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pius IX., in the XIV. year of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland ; Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant being Governor of Newfoundland.
” Directing Superintendent } PATRICK KOUGH. ” Builder } JAMES PURCELL.
Fort Townsend consists of a square of wooden buildings, the centre of the square is used as a parade. Fort William consists of another square of stone buildings. Long ranges of stone barracks line Signal Hill. All the military has now been withdrawn from Newfoundland.
In 1845, the erection of a Native Hall was commenced, for the purposes of a classical school, lecture room, library, and reading-room. The site of the building was given by the Government. The foundation-stone was laid by Sir John Harvey, who was then Governor. The following is a copy of the inscription on the foundation stone :
” On the twenty-fourth day of May, Anno Domini 1845, being the anniversary of the birthday of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, this stone was laid by his excellency Major-General Sir John Harvey, Knight Commander of the most honourable Military Order of the Bath, and of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order ; Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and its Dependencies, as the foundation stone of the Native Hall.
” For the erection of which the site has been freely granted by his Excellency the Governor, then kindly consenting to officiate, unto Richard Barnes, Edward Kielley, Robert Carter, George Hoyles Dunscomb, Hannibal Murch, Ambrose Shea, and Philip Duggan, in trust for the use of the Newfoundland. Native Society, instituted in this town on the 12th day of June, in the year of our Lord 1840, Edward Kielley, Esq., being its first, Robert Garter, Esq., lieut. Royal Navy, and M.G.A., its second, and Richard Barnes, Esq., M.G.A., its third and present president.
” The object and aim of the Association, in the use to which the contemplated structure shall be appropriated, being the advancement of science by the creation of a thirst for know-ledge.
” The present Building Committee being Richard Barnes, Chairman; Hannibal Murch, Secretary ; George Hoyles Dunscomb, Thomas Graham Money, James Johnston Rogerson, John Barron, Philip Duggan, Wm. Freeman, James Gleeson, Henry Thomas, Ambrose Shea, James S. Clift, and Archibald Hamilton McCalman.
” May the building be speedily completed amidst the rejoicings of the Society.
” God Save the Queen, and prosper our native land.”
The building was to be of wood, and was partly erected when it was destroyed by a violent and terrific gale of wind in the fall of 1846, since which, for want of sufficient funds, no effort has been made to rebuild it. I hope a substantial stone edifice will soon be erected, appropriated to the purposes of a public hall, library, and lyceum.
At the river head a building was occupied temporarily as a lunatic asylum, which accomodated about thirty persons. The institution is presided over by Doctor Stabb, a highly respectable and intelligent physician.
In the insane asylums of the United States, reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing and music are taught. The State Lunatic Hospital of Massachusetts is located at Worcester, which is one of the finest buildings in the country, and has 400 patients residing in it. I have often visited this building, and have been surprised at the arrangement and order which prevails. Dr. S. B. Wood-ward in his report says :
” In my experience of six years as physician of a prison, and thirteen as superintendent of this hospital, I have seen many individuals who were broken off abruptly from all stimulating drinks, yet I do not think a single case of delirium tremens has occurred.
” Alcohol is not the only narcotic which affects the brain and nervous system. Tobacco is a powerful narcotic agent, and its use is very deleterious to the nervous system, producing tremors, vertigo, faintness, palpitation of the heart, and other serious diseases. That tobacco certainly produces insanity, I am unable positively to observe ; but that it produces a pre-disposition to it, I am fully confident. Its influence upon the brain and nervous system generally, is hardly less obvious than that of alcohol, and if used excessively, is equally injurious.
” The very general use of tobacco among young men at the present day, is alarming, and shows the ignorance and devotion of the devotees of this dangerous practice to one of the most virulent poisons of the vegetable world. The testimony of medical men of the most respectable character, could be quoted to any extent, to sustain these views of the deleterious influence of this dangerous narcotic.”
The following are some of the charitable and other institutions in St. John’s. .
The Benevolent Irish Society, established in 1806, is the wealthiest and oldest society on the island. The Dorcas Society, Mechanics’ Society, British Society, St. George’s Society, St. Andrew’s Society, Provident and Loan and Investment Society, Coopers’ Society, Volunteer Fire Company (Phoenix), Agricultural Society, Bible and Tract Societies, Volunteer Companies, Law Society, Chamber of Commerce, Library and Reading-room, Masonic Order, St. John’s Total Abstinence Society, and various Orders of the Sons of Temperance. A Catholic Total Abstinence Society. A Mechanics’ Institute, established in 1849. A Young Men’s Christian Association, Church of England Society for Widows and Orphans. The Native Society was established in June, 1840, and was organized in consequence of the systematic and almost entire exclusion of natives from offices under the Government. Strangers from the Old Country were appointed to offices of emolument, and the Natives were reduced to the necessity of continuing in their own country as a secondary and subordinate class, or becoming expatriated and seeking some better field for the exercise of their industry and talents.
The Natives of Newfoundland have never asked for anything exclusive in their favour. They only wished to be placed on a perfect equality with all others, and their own energy and talent, would work out the rest. The Rev. J. Brewster, an Englishman, and Weslyan Methodist minister, says:—
” The natives of St. John’s, Brigus, Harbour Grace, Carbonear, and other wealthy and populous places, are a well-educated and intelligent people. Among them may be found men who could fill with honour the higher stations of political power and trust ; and women who would adorn and bless the family circle of the most refined establishment. We could refer to instances in which the offices of the Colonial Government have been better filled than by the gentlemen sent out from Downing Street. I know not whether our Colonial Secretaries have a large staff of dependents to provide with salaries, but the fact is, they have sent out young men from England to fill important stations, who were not worthy to carry the shoes of some of the natives, and were inferior to them either in point of morals, general intelligence, and a natural promptitude and punctuality in business.
Taking the natives generally, I have perceived, from personal observation, that they are superior in manners and speech to the peasantry of many of the country villages of England.
There is not that provincialism in their speech as among the peasantry of the Peak of Derbyshire and the moors of the East Riding of Yorkshire. While travelling in those parts I have frequently felt my want of an interpreter. During a visit to one of these romantic villages where every prospect of mountain and flood gave enchantment to the scene, I spent some time in visiting the different families. A farmer accompanied me as guide. Stopping before a garden gate, on which a boy was idly swinging, my guide asked him in his dialect” Beeal, ist morrow ‘it toose ? ‘ ” Yah,” was the answer. Had rudest of Newfoundland’s ocean sons accompained me, he would have asked in plain English, ” Bill, is your mother in the house ? ” and the answer would have been, ” Yes, sir.”
The natives of Newfoundland were not only debarred from a participation in the offices of the Government, but they were also excluded from the pulpits of the various denominations. Mr. Brewster’s remarks are equally as applicable to some of the Methodist preachers sent to Newfoundland, as to persons sent to fill offices in the Government. It is well known that many natives were immeasureably superior to the preachers who were sent from England, in point of general intelligence. It is a well known fact, also, that most of the Methodist preachers sent from England to Newfoundland, were raw young men without experience or education. They were sent ” to fill important stations who were not worthy to carry the shoes of some of the natives.” Some of the preachers were accustomed to write to England an account of their privations and sufferings, and these accounts were published in the Report of the Wesleyan Missionary Society in London ; when most of them well knew they were enjoying more comforts and luxuries than they ever dreamed of in their paternal homes. See the debate which took place in the Wesleyan Methodist Conference in England, 1860, as reported in the Watchman, August 9th, of that year.
I believe it was not until 1862 that the Methodists had a native preacher among them ; and I do not remember to have heard of a single native Roman Catholic priest until 1858, the Rev. Father Brown, of Bonavista. In 1859, when the first Bishop of the Church of England, Dr. Spencer, was appointed to Newfoundland, he saw the importance of employing a native ministry. He at once established a Theological Institution, in which several natives were trained for the ministry, and of which the Rev. Charles Blackman, A.M., was the first Principal. Bishop Field, his successor, has pursued the saine course. There are now a number of natives employed as clergy-men of the Church of England, and others going through a preparatory course of study for ordination. There are natives of Newfoundland clergymen of the Church of England in England, the various British colonies, and the United States of America. The Rev. Dr. M’Cawley, a native of Newfoundland, was many years President of King’s College, Windsor, and Archdeacon of Nova Scotia. Another, the Rev. Joseph H. Clinch, A.M., is a poet, and one of the most talented clergymen of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the City of Boston, U.S.
A number of others might he named, indeed, many who have left the Island have in other places distinguished themselves in law, medicine, and the army and navy. Sir Henry Pynn, of Mosquitto, Conception Bay, entered the army, and died on his estate in Ireland.* The present Chief Justice of Newfoundland, Sir Hugh Wm. Hoyles, the Attorney-General ; the Hon. F. C. B. Carter, the Premier ; also the Solicitor-General, the Hon. Judge Hay-ward, are all members of the Newfoundland bar, and natives of the country. The first commander of Newfoundland, the Hon. Ambrose Shea, formerly Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Hon. John Bemister, formerly Secretary of the Colony, the Hon. E. W. Shea, the present
* Since the organization of the Natives’ Society, natives have been appointed to various important offices ; and recently sonie of them have been raised to the highest offices in the gift of the Government to bestow.
Secretary ; the Hon. J. J. Rogerson, present Receiver-General ; Matthew Ryan, Esq., District Judge, Winnipeg, Manitoba, are all natives of Newfoundland.
The following are the Joint Stock Companies of St. John’s :St. John’s Water Company, Gaslight Company, Savings Bank, Union and Commercial Banks, Association of Underwriters, and Fanners’ Mill Company ; besides which there are agents for the following insurance Societies : Britannia, Life Assurance Office, the Colonial Life Assurance Company, National Loan Fund Life Assurance Society, London ; Protection Insurance Company, New Jersey ; Alliance British and Foreign Life and Fire Assurance Company, Liverpool ; Hartford Life and Fire Insurance Company, etc. ; Telegraph Company, Steam Packet Company, Benefit Building and Investment Society.
The merchants occupy the most important position in the social character of St. John’s, most of whom are permanent residents. Many of them have villas in the neighbourhood of the city. The merchants of St. John’s are renowned for their hospitality, and liberality towards all philanthropic and benevolent objects.
The mercantile class is the only one who accumulate wealth in large amounts, hence, like the ” Colonocracy” of Boston, the ” Fishocracy” of St. John’s exert a great influence over all the other classes of the community. Society in St. John’s is composed of four classes
First.The principal merchants, high officials of Government, and some of the lawyers and medical men.
Second .The small merchants, large shopkeepers, some of the lawyers and doctors, and secondary officials.
Third.Grocers, master mechanics, and schooner holders ; and the
Fourth Class is the fishermen.
The first and second classes rarely, if ever, hold any social intercourse with the others. There is no colony belonging to the Britisy Empire where influence and name tend so much to form caste in society, and where it is more regarded than in St. John’s. This distinction of caste has a very pernicious influence. It prevents the amalgamation of fellow citizens, and destroys mutual confidence. Here I shall let my friend, E. Fry, speak :
” We live in a business age. To obtain the character of a thorough man of business, is to obtain a passport to the administration and confidence of mankind. There is no volume studied with more intense and laborious devotion than the ledger no pursuit so fascinating and absorbing as that of making money. We are not about to enter any protest against business men and business habits. The age needs them ; and their energies, wisely directed, contribute largely to the public good ; but the age also demands that they should really be business men, and not business machines. He who gives up all the faculties and powers, all the time and all the energy with which God has endowed him to the pursuit of wealth, to his counting house or his counter, may he an excellent business machine as a thing of figures, weights and measures he may be first rate but the higher attributes of his manhood are gone ; for the highest privilege is to be the steward of God, not the slave of self. For the government of the great human family, Divine Wisdom has framed laws as beautiful as they are simple and practical. He has written them by the finger of inspiration He enforces them by the teachings of experience He implants in every heart the power to understand and fulfil them. ‘ Love is the fulfilling of the Law,’ but the law of what ? of gold, of power, of self ? Nay, but the love of God, and the broad comprehensive love of universal humanity. Why do we see so much want and misery in the world, but because men of power and of business, whose love should be universal, narrow down their senses and their sympathies to the service of one object, and that object is self. They regard their neighbours, not as men and women to be served, but to be used. Their solicitude is not how much happiness they can confer, but how much they can extract not how much good they can do to others, but how much they can compel others to do for them. This is the working of a heartless system of trade machinery, but should never be the policy of a Christian man of business.”
The mercantile clerks of St. John’s are a highly respectable and intelligent class of young men, and as some of them will be the future merchants of the country, they are of course a very important class of persons. Few of them exhibit the ” swell manners and flash appearance of the roùe,” which are too frequently found amongst this class of persons. The merchants very generally close their shops at an early hour during three months in the summer and three in the winter, so as to afford their clerks an opportunity for mental and moral culture. The clerks are always employed by the year, and generally board in the house of the merchant. The family of the merchant, however, rarely take meals with the clerks, and if the merchant or his agent be present, it is eaten in silence.
There is a strange want of confidence exhibited in the intercourse between merchants and their clerks. Too frequently their conversation resembles what may be termed cross-examination. Confidence begets confidence. No man has so much talent and power as to be above learning many important points of intelligence, respecting both men and business, from his young men. Each of the parties moves in a different circle; and the clerk, from the nature of his young companions, has equal means of obtaining valuable information his master enjoys.
What would be said of a military commander, and what would he his success and fate, did he not avail himself of all the talent and diversity of character in his subordinate officers ? A mechanic is careful to attend to the suggestions of his workmen ; a shipmaster should have the most perfect confidence in his mates and crew ; and should a merchant lose all the advantages to be obtained from an active exercise of all the talents and means of information his clerks possess ?
Another evil attendant upon this intercourse, is the want of interest manifested by employers respecting their young men during the time they are away from their places of business. In a very large majority of cases, employers do not trouble themselves about this matter ; and yet who does not see that upon this point depends, in a great degree, the value of the services rendered while the clerk is on duty. I ask clerks, How many of y ou receive any indications that your services are appreciated ? How many of you have ever been invited to meet your employers at a house of worship, even in cases where you are professedly Christian ? I ask again, How many of you are requested, even once a year, to visit your employers at their dwellings for one evening of social intercourse ?”
The following is the population of the City of St. John’s at different periods
According to the returns of 1845, the population of the Electoral District of St. John’s was
Roman Chatholics 18,986
Wesleyan Methodists 1,075
Protestants of other Denominations 15
Protestant Episcopal Churches 9
Wesleyan Methodist Chapels 4
Roman Catholic Chapels 5
There were also 4,110 dwelling houses, and 52 schools, and 3,620 scholars. There were 8,099 acres of land under cultivation, yielding an annual average of 48,543 bushels of potatoes ; 3,436 bushels of oates and other grain ; and 4,313 tons of hay and fodder (since this period quantities of wheat and barley have been raised in the district.) There were also in the above year, 771 horses, and 1,307 head of cattle. The manufactures of St. John’s consists of boots and shoes, tin-ware, cabinet-ware and upholstery, carpentry, lime, seal-oil, cod-liver oil, &c. Recently salt has been manufactured from sea water, and spinning and weaving wool and flax have commenced, producing the fabrics called ” home-spun.” There are two grist mills at work, and a distillery. There is also a nail manufactory, saw mill, and an iron foundry, where every description of castings is made. This establishment is owned by the Hon. C. F. Bennett, one of the oldest and most enterprising merchants in the island. The City of St. John’s is lighted with coal gas, and is well supplied with water, which is conveyed from Signal Hill, three miles distant. The streets are well provided with fire plugs, which are also used to water the streets.
Nearly the whole trade of the island centres in St. John’s. There is probably more business done in St. John’s, for the extent of population, than in any other town in the world.
There were nine Churches of England, nine Churches of Rome, three Churches of Methodists, one Church of Scotland, ont. Free Church of Scotland, and one Congregationalist.
There were 4,553 inhabited houses, and 70 schools, with 4,303 scholars.
The following is a comparative view of the number of vessels employed in the seal fishery, from St. John’s, from the year 1830 to 1859 :
Years. Vessels. Tons. Men. Years. Vessels.Tons. Men.
1830 92 6198 1958 1842 74 6035 2054
1831 118 8046 2 578 1843 106 9625 3175
18:32 153 11462 3294 1844 121 11088 3777
1833 106 8665 2964 1845 126 1186:3 3895
1834 125 11020 2910 1846 141 13165 4470
1835 120 11167 2912 1847 95 935:3 2215
1836 126 11425 2855 1848 103 10046 3541
1837 121 10648 2940 1849 58 5847′ 2170
1838 110 9300 2826 185:3 101 11204 3967
1839 76 6447 2029 1858 81 10100 3886
1840 75 6190 2058 1859 99 12342 4542
1841 72 5965 2078
In 1872, twenty steamers sailed from St. John’s and Harbour Grace, for the seal fishery. Some of them were 800 tons burden, carrying 280 men each. There were also a number of sailing vessels sent out.
The following is the number of foreign vessels which entered the port of St. John’s in 1850:
Vessels. Tons. Men.
Spanish, 69 8,496 668
American, 16 2,894 130
Danish, 1 91 5
Portuguese, 1 177 10
German, 2 292 16
Total, 89 11,950 835
Besides the above, about 600 vessels belonging to St. John’s, were employed in the foreign trade.
The following will enable the reader to form an estimate of the number of seals annually manufactured at St. John’s.
Number of seals received in St. John’s in 1839:
Landed from 76 St. John’s vessels 91,749
Landed from 98 out-port vessels 150,576
The following is the number of seals received by the various mercantile establishments up to the 30th of April, 1845. There were, however, many thousand more received after that date.
Robinson, Brooking & Co 4,365
John P. Mullowney 3,500
Walter Dillon 1,800
Parker & Gleeson 700
James Douglas & Co 3,300
Lawrence O’Brien 14,000
James Tobin & Co 26,500
Hunters & Co 7,150
Job, Brothers & Co 6,431
W. & H. Thomas & Co. 11,000
Baine, Johnston & Co 8,000
Richard Howley 7,800
McBride & Kerr 15,497
Bowring Brothers 9,800
John & J. Kent 3,000
R. O’Dwyer & Co 7,000
E. & N. Stabb 1,996
John Nichols 1,000
John H. Warren 5,100
C. F. Bennett & Co 9,572
J. & W. Stewart 18,235
Rennie, Stuart & Co 13,523
R. Alsop & Co 7,800
Stabb, Row & Holmwood 4,900
Hounsell, Schenk & Hounsell 5,978
Newman & Co 5,557
Mudge & Co 4,250
Making a total of 207,754
Which produced 2,596 tuns of oil imperial, at the usual calculation of 80 seals to a tunvalued at £30 per tun, amounts to .£77,880, or 311,520.
In 1876, Messrs. Job Brothers’ steamer ” Neptune,” commanded by the Hon. E. White, returned from the seal fisheries with 8,000 young harps the first trip, and 18,000 old seals on the second trip. The total value of both trips estimated at 132,000.
The staple articles of the produce of St. John’s ex-ported are fish and oil. Some few years ago, four or five cargoes of ice were exported, but I believe none have since been sent away.
I (10 not know why the exportation of ice is not more attended to. The ice trade of Boston and other parts of the United States is very considerable. The freight on ice exported from the United States in 1849 amounted to 895,0 27.
The following is the number of vessels employed in the ice-trade of Boston in 1548 :-
To various ports of the United States41 ships, 33 barques, 39 brigs, 128 schooners, making in all, 241 vessels coastwise.
The total value of the 60,425 tons of ice shipped from Boston in 1848 amounted to $386,700. The quantity of ice shipped from Boston in nine months in 1851 was 86,752 tons. It is calculated that about 66,000 tons of ice are consumed in the City of New York, valued at $2.50 per ton of 2,000 lbs., will give $164,500 as the value of the ice consumed in the city. The ice sells in foreign ports at from three to six cents per pound.
The ice crop of New York in 1851 was 180,000 tons of course it is a great deal more now.
There are eleven newspapers published in St. John’s, four weekly, four tri-weekly, two semi-weekly, and one published on the arrival of every mail packet. There is also a small paper devoted to temperance, and an agricultural journal a quarterly publication.
In order to complete the improvements which are going on in St. John’s, the town should be incorporated. The great objection to this, by the Protestants, is, that all the patronage would be thrown into the hands of the Roman Catholics, who compose two-thirds of the population. There are two police magistrates in St. John’s, called district judges, with a clerk of the peace. There are about a dozen medical men living in St. John’s, some of whom have a very lucrative income.
Newfoundland was formerly distinguished from the other North American Colonies by its frequent exemption from cholera, but in 1854 St. John’s suffered fearfully from that disease.
It attacked chiefly, says Bishop Field,
” Those quarters of the town which are occupied by the poor, dwelling in houses closely packed together, or in over-crowded rooms wholly unventilated, and unprovided with appurtenances as essential to decency as to healthiness, and having no proper drainage or sewerage. There it was sadly true, in the course of this visitation that ‘ there was not a house where there was not one dead.’ It has been estimated that 700 or 800 persons died, of whom 80 were Members of the Church of England.
” The Clergy had frequently, in addition to their own more proper duties, to minister with their own hands to the sick and dying. There was such a panic among the people, that many who only fancied themselves ill, summoned us to them. The Bishop, who was at St. John’s throughout this distressing time, not only aided us by his counsel and advice, but directed us by his example, and encouraged us by his earnest and fearless devotedness. I have myself seen him pouring nourishing
drinks’ into the mouth of the poor agonised patient, in a room or hovel, where filth and offensive odours proclaimed the very hot-bed of pestilence. Even when friends or neighbours declined the office, his Lordship has assisted in bearing the sick to the vehicle in which they were to be carried to the hospital ; and in any way in which he hoped he might be useful to the souls or bodies of his suffering flock, he was forward to prove himself their ‘ servant for Jesus’ sake.’
” The parish also had the benefit of the services of the Rev. J. F. Phelps, Vice-Principal of the College, and of the Rev. A. E. C. Bayley, Missionary in charge of the out-harbours, and especially of a pious and devoted English lady, who has for the last year and a half given herself to the work of Gon here. She not only toiled beyond a woman’s strength, but with more than even a woman’s kindness and sympathy in ministering to the afflicted. The nourishment which she had prepared at her house, she carried and gave to them herself, and shrank from no office of piety or charity,–even closing the eyes of the dead, and other-wise preparing them for their coffins.
” A distressing fact connected with this visitation was the seeming indifference to the highest and most momentous concerns produced by the rapid and entire prostration of mind as well as body, which occurred in almost every case. I remember very few instances in which the dying expressed any anxiety about their souls.
” Many of the inhabitants (including Churchmen, Dissenters, and Roman Catholics) afterwards expressed their sense of the valuable services of the Clergy, by contributing to present Archdeacon Bridge and the Rev. T. M. Wood with appropriate and acceptable gifts.”
The merchants have two steam tug-boats for towing vessels in the Narrows. Instances have been known of vessels after having arrived at the mouth of the Narrows in the winter season, being obliged to bear up for Europe. The pilots of St. John’s are a noble and fear-nought race of men, who are constantly exposed to the ” peltings of the pitiless storm.” The pilot-boats are small open boats, built sharp at both ends, like whale-boats ; they are furnished with a crew of good rowers, and, when the breeze is favourable, sails are spread. This class of boats, how-ever, ought to be superseded by larger and decked boats. Many persons wonder how the pilot-boats of St. John’s live in weather in which they are frequently found.
The Newfoundland Mails are conveyed to and from Halifax by a Royal Mail Steam-packet, and one of the Cunard line, once a fortnight, except in the months of January, February, and March, once a month. The steamer leaves Halifax for St. John’s, immediately after the arrival of the homeward bound Mail, (from Boston), and after remaining there seventy-two hours from the time of arrival, proceeds back to Halifax with the return Mails, calling at Sydney, Cape Breton. On the average the passage is performed in about three and a half days.
The following calculation of the distances between New York and Bristol, and New York and Liverpool, and .also between Boston and Liverpool, via Halifax and St. John’s, Were given some years ago in the Liverpool Standard.
Taking, therefore, the direct course in each case, as by the calculations given, we have the following results The voyage from New York to Liverpool is 43 miles longer than from New York to Bristol. From New York to Liverpool is longer than from Halifax to the same port by 529 miles. From New York to King’s-road, near Bristol, where the Great Western anchors, is 99 miles further than from Boston, via Halifax to Liverpool ; and that the voyage from Liverpool to Halifax, via St. St. John’s, is only 104 miles longer than the direct passage.
There is a Postmaster-General in St. John’s, with a Chief Clerk, and five assistants. Post Offices are established at the following places :Harbor Grace, Carbonear, Brigens, Trinity, Bonavista, Greenspond, Fogo, Twillingate, Bay Bulls, Ferryland, Trepassey, Placentia, Burin, Harbor Briton, Burgeo.
Port-de-Grove, Bay Roberts, King’s Cove, New Perlican, Old Perlican, St. Mary’s, Grand Bank, Corelin, Isle of Valen, Little Platentia, Salmonier, Garnish, and Harbor Maine.
SummerBetween St. John’s and Portugal Cove, every day, except Sunday and Friday, by Waggon.
Between Portugal Cove, Brigus, Harbor Grace, and Carbonear, by Steamer, tri-weekly.
Overland, by Waggon, for Carbonear, via Topsail Kelligrews, Holyrood, Harbor Main, Brigus, Port-de-Grave, Bay Roberts, Spaniard’s Bay and Harbor Grace, Four Hours after the arrival of Halifax Steamer.
WinterOverland, Mondays and Thursdays, between St. John’s and Carbonear, calling at all the intermediate places.
Between Carbonear and New Perlican (calling at Heart’s Content) weekly, by Messenger.
Between Carbonear and Bay-de-Verds, weekly, by Messenger, calling at intermediate places.
Between New Perlican and Bay-de-Verds and Grates, calling at Old Perlican, weekly, by Messenger.
Between New Perlican and Trinity, weekly, by Boat. Between Trinity and Bonavista, weekly, by Messenger. Between Trinity and King’s Cove, weekly, by Messenger.
Between Bonavista and Greenspond, fortnightly, during summer months, touching at King’s Cove or Tickle Cove.
Between St. John’s, Fogo, and Twillingate, leaving St.
John’s every second Wednesday after the arrival of the Mail Packet from Halifax, or on such other days as the Postmaster-General may appoint.
Between St. John’s and Ferryland, weekly, by Waggon, during summer months, and fortnightly in winter.
Between Ferry land and Trepassy, by Messenger.
Between St. John’s and Placentia, by Waggon, at 4 o’clock, a.m., on the Tuesday after the arrival of Halifax steamer.
Between Placentia and St. John’s, by Waggon, in one hour after the arrival of Packet Boat from Burin.
Between Salmonier and St. Mary’s, by Messenger.
Between Great and Little Placentia, by Messenger.
Between Little Placentia, La Manche, Sound Island, Harbor Buffett, Red Island, Merasheen and Bourgeo, by Boat.
Between Great Placentia and Burin, by Boat, touching at Paradise and Oderin.
Between Burin and Garnish, by Messenger.
Between Garnish, Grand Bank, and Fortune, by Messenger.
Between Garnish and Harbour Briton, calling at English Harbor, by Boat.
Between Harbour Briton, Burgeo and La Poile, by Boat.
Mr. Morris says :
” On the great Holyhead line, the coach stops to deliver the mails at the smallest villages or post towns; on the rail-roads, rapid as their course is, the same system is adopted. The consideration that is given to a village is denied to Newfoundland, Her Majesty’s Mail passes her shores, and she is not considered of sufficient importance to stop for a few hours to deliver them. The trade to N Newfoundland is not so large, the demand for British manufactures is not so great as that to the American continent, yet it is not insignificant ; there is between three hundred and fifty thousand and half a million’s worth of British manufactures annually consumed, and the amount rapidly increases. There is nearly a million of exports, the returns chiefly centre in England. Some two thousand British ships, manned with many thousands of British seamen, are employed. To say nothing of the growing importance of the country itself, surely such a Colony claims a due share of consideration.” It has never yet received it.
In 1838, when establishing direct steam communication between England and America was contemplated, Admiral Prescott strongly recommended the harbour of St. John’s as a convenient post to touch at in the passage out and home. He forwarded a memorial from the Chamber of Commerce of St. John’s on the same subject, to show the facility with which the passage to Newfoundland was made, even by sailing vessels, in the depth of winter. His Excellency, Governor Prescott, in a despatch, under date of the 2nd February, 1839, said :
” With reference to my despatches of the 12th and 19th January, I have the honour to inform your Lordships, that a merchant brig arrived here from Cork, on the 30th ult., after a passage of only thirteen days, and had no difficulty in entering this port, and sailing up to her owner’s wharf.”
Admiral Prescott’s recommendation of St. John’s as a post of call was submitted by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, who did not deem it expedient to attend to his recommendation.
His Excellency Sir John Harvey, in his speech to the Legislature, at the opening of the Session in 1846, points out the advantages of making Newfoundland an intermediate post of call, and fully confirms the opinion given, under the high professional character of Admiral Prescott.
” The impressions which have been produced on the minds of several distinguished individuals by whom this Island has been visited during the last summer, as to the decided superiority which this port of St. John’s possesses over every other, as an intermediate point in steam navigation between England and America, whether the terminus be the British Colonies or the United States, are : 1stFrom its geographical position.
From the depth of water and perfect security of its noble harbour, accessible at all seasons, and at all hours of day or night, owing to the absence of tides or bars. 3rdFrom the safety of navigation along the whole of the southern coast of Newfoundland, from Cape Spear, on which a splendid light has long existed, to Cape Race, which or in its neighbourhood it is hoped will ere long exhibit one of equal power. 4th From the numerous harbours of refuge which present themselves along that coast.
” These are among the circumstances which have attracted the attention of the intelligent individuals to whom I have referred, and I now allude to the subject in order to point to it the attention of the mercantile interests of this Colony, at a moment when such great efforts are being made to extend railroad communications to the western extremity of Ireland, with the object of shortening and facilitating steam communication between Great Britain and her transatlantic possessions.
The General Assembly petitioned Her Majesty and both Houses of Parliament on the same subject.”
The railroad extending from the State of Maine, through the Provinces of New Brunswiek and Nova Scotia, will greatly faciliate travel between Europe and America. Also the Intercolonial Railroad. The distance from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to the nearest part of Ireland is about 1,650 miles, and instances are un record of sailing vessels having anchored in Ireland 7 and 8 days from St. John’s. A powerful steamer would accomplish the distance in about 5 days. By making St. John’s an intermediate port of call for the mial steamers, the distance between the old and new world would be wonderfully reduced.
” This can only be achieved by shortening the sea voyage, and dispensing with the vast weight of coal and other superfluous load now carried. Vessels designed for crossing the ocean with speed, should be relieved of all load not requisite for steadiness and good carriage. Ordinary merchandise will always go more cheaply in sailing vessels. Valuable goods could be transferred to boats of still greater speed, from the ocean terminus running if necessary to the various Atlantic cities. In this way the safest and swiftest passage would be secured. In a few years, instead of a semi-weekly, a daily arrival of steamships may be expected.,
A railroad is now being surveyed across the Western part of Newfoundland to St. Gaspard’s Bay ; thence to Shippegan in New Brunswick, connecting with the Inter-colonial Railroad. Steamships from Europe now make St. John’s an intermediate port of call. Messrs. Lord, Major and Munner’s steamers from Montreal run to St. John’s, calling at Sydney and Pictou.
The following is an interesting incident in the life of Fulton, the father of steam navigation, taken from an American paper :
” Some twenty years since, more or less for I cannot fix the date with more certainty I formed a travelling acquaintance, upon a steamboat on the Hudson River, with a gentleman, who, on that occasion, related to me some incidents of the first voyage of Fulton, to Albany, in his steamboat, the Claremont, which I have never met with elsewhere.
” I chanced, my friend, to be at Albany, on business, when Fulton arrived there in his unheard of craft, which everybody felt so much interest in seeing. Being ready to leave, and hearing that this craft was to return to New York, I repaired on board and inquired for Mr. Fulton. I was referred to the cabin, and there I found a plain gentlemanly man, wholly alone, and engaged in writing.
” Mr. Fulton, I presume.”
” Yes, sir.”
” Do you return to New York with this boat ? ”
” We shall try to get back, sir.”
” Can I have a passage down ? ”
” You can take your chance with us, sir.”
” I inquired the amount to be paid, and after a moment’s hesitation, a sum, I think six dollars, was named. The amount, in coin I laid in his open hand, and with his eyes fixed upon it he remained so long motionless that I supposed there might be a miscount, and said to him, is that right, sir ? This roused him as from a kind of reverie, and as he looked up to me the big tear was brimming in his eye, and his voice faltered as he said, ‘ excuse me, sir ; but memory was busy as I contemplated this, the first pecuniary reward I have ever received for all my exertions in adapting steam to navigation. I would gladly commemorate the occasion over a bottle of wine with you, but really I am too poor, even for that just now ; yet I trust we may meet again, when this will not be so.’
” The voyage to New York proved successful, as all know, and terminated without accident.
” Some four years after this, when the Claremont had been greatly improved, and her name changed to the North River, and when two other boats, namely, the Car of Neptune and the Paragon, had been built ; making Mr. Fulton’s fleet, of three boats plying between New York and Albany, I took passage on one of these for the latter city. The cabin, in that day, was below ; and as I walk its length too and fro, I saw I was very closely observed by one I supposed a stranger. Soon, however, I recalled the features of Mr. Fulton, but, without disclosing this, I continued my walk and awaited the result. At length, in passing his seat, our eyes met, he sprang to his feet, and eagerly seizing my hand, exclaimed, ‘ I knew it must be you, for your features have never escaped me ; and although I am still far from rich, yet I may venture that bottle now.’ It was ordered, and during its discussion, Mr. Fulton ran rapidly but vividly over his experience of the world’s coldness and sneers, and of the hopes, fears, disappointments, and difficulties that were scattered through his whole career of discovery, up to the very point of his final crowning triumph, at which he so fully felt he had at last arrived. And, in reviewing all these,’ said he, ‘ I have again and again recalled the occasion and incident of our first interview, at Albany ; and never have I done so without renewing in my mind, the vivid emotion it really caused. That seemed, and still does seem to me, the turning point in my destiny the dividing line between light and darkness, in my career on earth for it was the first actual recognition of my usefulness to my fellow-man.
” Such, then, were the events coupled with the very (lawn of steam navigation a dawn so recent as to be still recollected by many and such, as Fulton there related them, were the early appreciations by the world of a discovery which has invaded all waters, causing a revolution in navigation which has almost literally brought the very ends of the earth in contact.”
The following, from the Montreal Transcript, is a history in brief of the losses of ocean steamers since the experiment was satisfactorily tried of crossing the Atlantic in steam-propelled vessels. Our contemporary is, however, incorrect in one particular. The Royal William and not the Sirius was the first steamer which successfully performed the ocean voyage from Pictou to Cowes, Isle of Wight, in 1833.-The only vessel of the Cunard line lost was the Columbia, at the entrance of the Bay of Fundy.
” The first steamship that crossed the Atlantic was the Sirius, in 1838.* The regular line of European steamships was started by Mr. Cunard in 1840, and since that time there have been lost on the Atlantic twelve steam vessels, making an average in nineteen years of about one in every eighteen months. The disasters may be summed up as follows :-
1. President. Never heard of.
2. Columbia. All hands saved.
3. Humboldt. ”
4. Glasgow. Never heard of.
5. City of Phil All hands saved.
6. Franklin. ”
7. Arctic. A few only saved.
8. Pacific. Never heard of.
9. Lyonnais. A few only saved.
10. Tempest. Never heard of.
11. Austria. Burned, great loss of life.
12. Indian. Twenty-two lives lost.
13. Hungarian. All lost.
14. Atlantic. Burying hundreds within a few feet of shore.
15. Northfleet. Hewn down by a passing iceberg.
16. Arbitrator. Foundered in twenty minutes, after striking an iceberg.
These, with numerous minor cases, the details of which will never be known, go to swell the list of lost steamers.”
A magnetic telegraph has been erected from St. John’s to Conception Bay and the western part of the island. As yet no effort has been made to establish a ” Sailor’s Home,” or to erect a Mariners’ Church, in St. John’s. In this respect it stands alone amid all the North American colonies, although possessing a larger number of seafaring persons than any of them. The writer communicated with the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, in Lon-don, in 1846, but from various causes the project was then abandoned. The first President of the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, Admiral Lord Gambier, was a well-known and philanthropic Governor of Newfound-land in 1802. It is calculated that there are three millions of persons throughout the world occupied on the great deep, and of this number 300,000 are at least British seamen. Of these, it is said, not 20,000 have any practical or experimental knowledge of the great truths of Christianity, so that not fewer than 280,000 of the most deserving portion of our fellow creatures are in moral darkness and ignorance. The poor sailor is more deserving of honour than the most renowned warrior that ever crimsoned his sword in the blood of his fellow man. The people of Newfoundland, above all other countries, are deeply indebted to the adventurous and daring intrepidity of the sons of the ocean !
To use the language of the eloquent author of ” Britannia,” a Prize Essay, dedicated to William IV. :
From the shores of eternity they cast back on us looks of upbraiding and reproach, because we never stretched out a friendly hand to save them from destruction ; and because, while every other class was enjoying the benefits of our christian solicitude, we entirely neglected them. From eternity they implore us instantly to warn their brethren and children, lest they also come to the place of torment.”
The following is an extract of a letter addressed to me by the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, in 1847 :
” It has been computed, that for every SIXTEEN sailors who die of all diseases, ELEVEN die by drowning, or in wrecks : that the number of British ships which are lost, is about ONE to TWENTY-FIVE : that nearly TWO THOUSAND of our mariners perish every year in the mighty deep, chiefly by shipwreck, by which PROPERTY to the value of nearly THREE MILLIONS sterling is annually lost to the empire; while hundreds of widows, and thousands of orphans, are thrown upon public charity ; and that the more frequent cause of these shipwrecks is intemperance ! These thrilling facts must speak with deep and solemn emphasis to every one possessed of the feelings of our common humanity ; but especially to such as have a due sense of the worth of the soul, and the momentous doctrines of salvation by Christ. Oh ! if there were any bowels and mercies in those who call themselves disciples of the Lord Jesus, let them by all that is precious in redeeming blood by all that is touching in Divine Love by all that is real in the discoveries of the gospel by all that enters into the worth of a deathless soul by all that stands connected with immortality and eternity, attempt, without delay, the present and eternal salvation of our deserving SEAMEN l”
The advocacy of Temperance first commenced in St. John’s in 1835. A society was then formed, but eventually failed for want of being conducted on the total abstinence principle. In 1838, a total abstinence society was formed, which, for a long time consisted of only nine members. In 1849 more public efforts were made, when the Society began to increase. In 1841 the Society numbered 250 members. The Society held several public meetings and festivals in aid of the cause, and put in circulation temperance journals and tracts. All these efforts were the means at length of inducing others to embark in the cause. In 1843 this Society was denominated ” The Abstinence Union Society,” connected with which was then the Presbyterian and Methodist Ministers.
In 1841, the Right Rev. Dr. Fleming, late Roman Catholic Bishop, commenced the advocacy of total abstinence. He imported several thousand medals, on one side of which the trade, fisheries, and agriculture of Newfoundland were represented, and on the reverse side was the pledge, with the name of the president. The bishop appointed one of his clergymen, the Rev. Kyran Walsh, to administer the pledge, and in the course of a few weeks, several thousands enrolled their names and received the pledge. From this time the temperance cause made rapid strides, through the zealous advocacy of Mr. Walsh. Subsequently, the Rev. John Forestal was appointed president of the Society, who was indefatigable in his exertions to extend the cause. Mr. Walsh has now resumed his old post again as president of the Society. In 1842, the Rev. Thomas F. H. Bridge, M.A., rector of St. John’s, parish church, began to administer a temperance card amongst the Protestant part of the community, when hundreds signed the pledge. After this the Catholic and Protestant clergymen in the outports commenced the advocacy of total abstinence.
In 1844, the number of teetotalers had increased to 22,000 for the whole island, of which number there were 20,000 Catholics. During the Governorship of Sir John Harvey, he delivered several temperance speeches, and aided the cause by his presence on several occasions. After this period the temperance cause retrograded, until 1848, when Mr. Kellogg, an American temperance lecturer, visited St. John’s, and delivered a course of lectures, which gave a fresh impetus to the cause. A new society was then formed, under the title of ” St. John’s Total Abstinence Society,” when several influential per-sons, who had hitherto stood aloof, joined the Society. Since this period public meetings have been regularly held, and converts obtained to the cause. Several Orders of the Sons of Temperance have been formed.
The following is the quantity of liquors imported in the undermentioned years, including ale and porter, wines and spirits, of all kinds : In 1838, 277,808 gallons ; in 1847, 94,268 gallons; in 1856, 256,361 gallons.
The scenery around St. John’s is as fine as I have ever seen in any country. The land is beautifully cultivated, and dotted with cottages and groups of trees. The trees are, however, destitute of that magnificent foliage that the trees of the neighbouring continent present. Neither oak, elm, maple, beach, cedar, walnut, butternut, or chesnut adorns the Newfoundland landscape ; the principal trees being spruce, fir, birch, and pine. There are some well cultivated farms in the neighbourhood of St. John’s. In the winter season the environs of St. John’s is crowded with persons drawing wood from the interior with horses and (logs, on low sleigh-like vehicles, called slides and catamarans. The greater part of the wood is used for fuel. The principal part of the inhabitants, however, burn coal, which is imported from Sydney, C.B., and Great Britain. The air-tight or. close stoves which are so common in the United States and the continental provinces, and which are so very convenient, but which are also very destructive to the health, are not much used in Newfoundland. During this season also, trains of sleighing parties are seen flying about in all directions, while the brass harness glistening in the sunshine, and the tinkling of the little bells on the horses’ necks, present a scene of gaiety and animation.
The sleigh of Newfoundland is not a vehicle of business, sleighing being pursued mostly for recreation and pleasure, and principally confined to St. John’s, Harbour Grace, Carbonear, and Brigus.
The principal places in the district of St. John’s, east and west, besides the City of St. John’s, is Torbay, which has three cod liver oil manufactories, and a population of 1,200 ; Petty Harbour, where are three cod liver oil manufactories, and a population of 747 ; and Portugal Cove, with a population of 651at the latter place there are three churches, one Church of England, one Wesleyan Methodist, and one Roman Catholic. There are also three hotels, also two schoolhouses, and a public wharf for passengers, &c., to land off the packets which touch here every day from various parts of Conception Bay. The passengers either walk or ride in a coach over a beautiful road nine miles and a half to St. John’s. The craggy rocks and wild towering cliffs, crowned with stunted fir trees, surrounding Portugal Cove, gives it an exceedingly romantic appearance. Waterford Bridge and Tindi Vidi in the neighbourhood of St. John’s, are places of great resort for pleasure parties, also Topsail, some miles distant.
Quidi Vidi Lake is frequented in the summer for bathing and regattas, and in the winter season for skating. A considerable quantity of ice is taken from the lake and deposited in an ice-house by the side of the lake, which belongs to a company who supply the city during the summer months. The whole country surrounding this lake is finely cultivated.
About three miles from St. John’s is ” Virginia Cottage,” once the rural retreal of Sir Thomas Cochrane, the governor. The lands are beautifully embellished with trees, and laid out in gravel walks. There is also a small lake along which winds a walk. This lovely spot was adorned from the private purse of Sir Thomas Cochrane, and after his departure from the island, was sold to the present proprietor, George H. Emerson, Esq., once a member of the House of Assembly, and solicitor-general of the island.
Besides the above places in the two districts of St. John’s, there is Logy Bay, population 180 ; Flat Rock, 236 ; Outer Cove, 237 ; Pouch Cove, 736 ; and Broad Cove, 301.