Laneways of Harbour Grace

Sciences humaines.svg Educational level: this is a tertiary (university) resource.

A collaborative project of FOLK6740: Public Folklore, a graduate level course in the Department of Folklore, Memorial University, NL, Canada.

Project OverviewEdit

 
Harbour Grace, 1911. Detail from a photo by R. T. Parsons.

This project is a partnership between FOLK6740, the Town of Harbour Grace, and Heritage NL. It emerged from discussions following a 2018 Harbour Grace People, Places, and Culture workshop,[1] which identified one of its key themes as "Roads and Laneways" – including historic lanes in the town, and old roadways connecting to other communities. Following this, the 2020 Harbour Grace Heritage District Development Plan[2] stated a desire to focus, "on historic laneways, or paths, that run between many of the buildings along the route,"[3] in the town's Registered Heritage District.[4] There are a number of historic laneways in the district that are unappealing in their present state, but invite exploration. These have the potential to link different areas within the district and to increase pedestrian routes in Harbour Grace. The project is intended to:

  1. Introduce students to the history and folklore of laneways in the town of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador;
  2. Strengthen students' archival, online, and ethnographic research skills;
  3. Provide opportunities for collaborative research and the encouragement of wiki editing skills;
  4. Create a resource page that can be used by the Town of Harbour Grace for the development of a future laneways interpretation plan; and,
  5. Support the Development Plan's goal to make the laneways a focal point for residents; where they can walk, explore, recreate, and to build pride.

Starting in February 2022, students in Memorial University's Department of Folklore conducted a series of interviews with the following locals:

Overview of laneways in the communityEdit

This section contains general historic and archival information compiled by the students about streets and laneways in Harbour Grace, placing the laneways discussed below in a broader historical context.

While the laneways in Harbour Grace's Historic District are a unique and lovely addition to the town, their inception stems from unfortunate circumstances. The town suffered extensive damage after three great fires in 1832, 1858 and 1944.[5] After the first fire, Newfoundland’s first Surveyor General, Joseph Noad, was assigned to create a street plan for the town.[6][7] This included planning for the laneways to act as fire breaks.[7]

Specific lanewaysEdit

Lilly's LaneEdit

Lilly's Lane is a small, dead-end laneway running off the landward side of Water Street, between Victoria Street and Bannerman Street. While none of the town's lanes are shown in the 1851 Outline of Early Town Plan for Harbour Grace,[8] the lane is visible (if not labeled as such) on the 1879 "Harbor Grace" bird's eye map.[9] The name "Lilly's Lane" was in place by the 1885 Directory.[10] By 1893, plans were in place to establish sewer drains between Lilly's Lane and Noad Street, to drain what at that time was a marshy, boggy area.[11]

One of the first Lilly families to settle in Harbour Grace was that of Captain William Lilly, Esquire (1735-1815)[12] and his wife Patience (c1738-1797).[13] William Lilly, born September 9, 1735 in Pembrokeshire, Wales, was a Loyalist of the American Revolution and merchant. After the American Revolution, he settled in Harbour Grace, where he had business interests before the war, and eventually served as Chief Magistrate and Collector and Comptroller of His Majesty's Customs.[12] When his wife Patience died, William had a headstone imported from England, which still stands in the Anglican churchyard. In a 1981 study of Newfoundland gravestones, folklorist Gerald Pocius wrote:

This marker was also the only stone recorded that contained the name of a carver from the Bristol area of the West Country. The name "Bristol" is clearly visible at the top of the stone, but the carver's name which precedes it is partly illegible. However, a Bristol trade directory mentions a Golledge working in Bristol as a "marble mason" at roughly the same time, and this surname fits the portions of letters still visible on the Harbour Grace stone.[14]

Captain Lilly died on September 30, 1815 at Harbour Grace after a short illness, "universally respected, and much regretted,"[12] and the ancestor of a bewildering number of Lilly descendants. In 1797, their son, William Jr. (1762-1809) also married a Patience: Patience Parsons (1767–1847).[15] Like his father, William Jr. also served in the military. After his death, Patience petitioned the Newfoundland government for aid. The Journal of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland for 1844 referenced:

Also a Petition of Patience Lilly of Harbor Grace, Widow, to His Excellency the Governor, setting forth, that her husband, William Lilly, served for many years as an Ensign and Lieutenant in a Corps raised for the protection of Newfoundland in the year 1782, and subsequently, in the year 1795, he was Commissioned as a Lieutenant of the Newfoundland Fencible Infantry, and served in the same until it was disbanded. That her said husband died in the year 1809, since when the Petitioner has subsisted without any public aid—that she is now upwards of seventy-five years of age, and very destitute and infirm, and without any means of support—and praying for some small annual pension to relieve her extreme necessities.[16]

William Jr. and Patience's son George was a St. John's auctioneer, turned lawyer, turned judge.[17] George's daughter, Emma Gaden Lilly (1815–1852),[18] went on to marry surveyor Joseph Noad, after whom Noad Street is named.[19] In 1885-86, three blacksmiths were listed as living on Lilly's Lane: John Beach, William Smith, and William Lilly.[10]

One notable branch of the Lilly family associated with the lane is that of James Henry Lilly and his wife Agnes (originally of Freshwater).[20] The list of electors for Harbour Grace, 1900, shows a "Lilly, J.H. of William" living on the lane,[21] likely being James Lilly, a cooper, listed as living there in In 1919.[22] Their son, William John Lilly, trained as a cooper under his father. In 1915 he voluntarily enlisted with the Newfoundland Regiment and was assigned to the SS Stephano to fight in the first world war.

 
Street corner in Poelcapelle, Belgium, 1918.

On 9 October 1917, at Broembeek,[23] Flanders, Private William John Lilly found himself at the Battle of Poelcappelle. There, the Newfoundlanders found themselves sinking in the mud: “Gun teams were struggling to bring the field artillery forward; and when the sweating horses became bogged belly-deep in the mire, manpower took over and dragged the guns into position.”[24] That night, as soldiers were leading the pack cobs (draft ponies) to the men with water and rations, a shell burst amongst them, killing Lilly instantly.[25] Before the day was over, 67 members of the Newfoundland Regiment were killed and 127 wounded.[24]

Back in Harbour Grace, things were not good for his mother, Agnes. In 1920, like Patience Lilly before her, Agnes wrote to the government seeking aid, appealing to the military paymaster in St. John's:

Dear Sir: I am very sick and so is my husband and I wants to know if there is anything I can get from the separation allowance. My allotment is stopped and I have nothing to depend on of only one son and he cannot earn enough to keep himself. And I think I have a claim from the separation allowance for my support. My husband have been sick this last six years. He is not able to work only very seldom. I am worst than a widow in lots of cases. I had two very good sons and one of them are married and the other is lying in France, some thing that got my heart broken which is the cause of my sickness. So if my case was considered I think I have so good a right to allowance as any one else. Please send me a form to Mrs. James Lilly, Water Street, Harbour Grace, late son Private Wm. J. Lilly, 1034.[25]

Agnes Lilly lived to be 72 years old, and died of tuberculosis on 10 January 1932.[20]

Bennett's LaneEdit

Bennett's Lane is one of the laneways on the outskirts of the Harbour Grace Heritage District. It is located between Harvey Street and Water Street, and intersects with Lampen's Lane.

 
Row of headstones in the Bennett's Lane Roman Catholic Cemetery. Bennett's Lane is visible in the background. Photo taken: February 2022

Bennett’s Lane was part of one of the two oldest thoroughfares in Harbour Grace. According to Gord Pike:

In the very early days of Harbour Grace, there were just two thoroughfares. One was called the “Main Path” and the other “The Road to the Woods.” … The “Road to the Woods” ran northward from the Main Path (Water Street) and was later subdivided [and] became Bennett’s Lane, Stretton’s Hill and Green Hill.[26]

Bennett's Lane CemeteryEdit

The Bennett's Lane Cemetery is the oldest Roman Catholic cemetery in Harbour Grace.[27] A sign at the entry of the graveyard reads, "Oldest known grave stone 1802,” though it was an established burial site by the end of the 18th Century. The Town of Harbour Grace declared it a Municipal Heritage Site in 2006.[27]

Most gravestones have since been eroded by time, and not all burials were marked by headstones.

Notable Burials:

  • Rev. Thomas Ewer (Yore) who “oversaw the construction of Harbour Grace’s first church"[27]
  • Father Patrick Phalen, one of the first buried in the Bennet's Lane Cemetery in 1799.

Father Patrick Phelan was either a Franciscan or Friar Minor who delivered mass to Catholics along the shores of Conception Bay. From 1794, possibly earlier, Harbour Grace was part of Phelan’s rounds. In 1799, the Father’s boat capsized off Grates Cove and Phelan drowned.[28] In his book, Galore, author Michael Crummey used historical records such as these to create his version of Father Phalen.[29][7]

  •  
    Iconography on the skull-and-crossbones chest tomb located in the Bennett's Lane Cemetery in Harbour Grace, NL. Photo taken: February 2022
    The Skull-and-Crossbones Grave[27]

The skull-and-crossbones grave refers to the remains of a chest tomb located within the Bennett's Lane cemetery. It was rediscovered by the the Knights of Columbus Dalton Council No. 1448 in 2013 during a cemetery clean-up.[27] The chest tomb includes an engraving of a skull and crossbones on one of the end stones and is accompanied by other iconography along the top of the tomb.

Visible iconography on the tomb includes:

  • A skull and crossbones symbol, which is a sign of mortality.[30]
  • Two lambs, each with a cross. Lambs typically represent Christ, as well as innocence. They were often used in the 19th century for child graves. The cross represents salvation and resurrection.[30]
  • Two winged effigies, which represent the "the flight of the soul."[30]

One theory about the iconography on the tomb proposes that, “the grave holds a young child, possibly a cholera victim.”[27]

The iconography on the tomb is also the source of a local legend: That the skull and crossbones signal that the grave is “the final resting place of nineteenth-century pirate John Keating, of Harbour Grace”.[27] This theory, popularized by local historian and author Jack Fitzgerald, is said to have reignited local and tourist interest in the graveyard.[27]

Harry Taylor's Tannery behind Bennett's Lane CemeteryEdit

In the early 1900s, Harry Taylor’s Tannery was located directly behind the Bennett’s Lane Cemetery opening onto LeMarchant Street (aka Gas House Hill).[31] To the great distress of neighbours, local dogs were quite fond of the garbage generated by the tannery. On March 30, 1909, The Evening Telegram from St. John’s reported, “Those horrid dogs have again scattered tannery rubbish about the sacred resting place of the dead in Bennett’s lane. The season has again arrived for ‘drawing in horns’.”[32]

Originally, the tannery was a small scale operation located in Mr. Pike's store on Water Street.[33] In 1898, the Harbor Grace Standard reported Mr. Taylor intended to expand his seven surface-pit business and wished him all the best in raising the necessary money.[33] Apparently, Mr. Taylor had enough "energy and pluck" as well as the required knowledge of both the business and the market to succeed.[33]

Taylor succeeded in building a new tannery on LeMarchant Street (roughly where the R. Teford and Son Ltd. Warehouse currently stands). Yet his success was short lived, and on January 26, 1906, the Harbor Grace Standard was advertising the upcoming auction of Taylor’s Tannery as a, “Grand Opportunity For Capitalists.” The auction was held on the premises at noon on January 31st. The tannery had a three-storey building, eighteen pits, and numerous tools and equipment for operating the business. The notice ends with, “Terms cash. For further particulars apply to W. H. Franklin Trustee, St. John’s or O.V. Travers, Auctioneer.”[34]

In 1925, the December 2nd edition of the Evening Telegram ran a story called "Young Newfoundlander Ordained" reporting that:

Mr. H. F. Shortis received the following Anglo cable message this morning from Pittsburgh., Penna, U.S.A.:

“Brother Jack who for fifteen years was Professor of steel treatment department, Carnegie Tech, was ordained a Priest by Bishop Alexander Mann in Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh Monday. As you are a friend of the Davis-Taylor family thought you would like to know this. Kind regards."

The young clergyman is the son of the venerable Mrs. Henry Taylor of Noad Street, Harbor Grace, who did so much in knitting socks, gloves, etc., for our young soldiers during the great war, and now in her 84th year. His grandfather was the famous seal-killer, Labrador planter and enterprising business man, Capt. Nathaniel Davis, who, for so many years commanded the brigantine "Robert Arthur," and other ships with success at the ice-floes. The Davis family is one of the very oldest and most highly respected in Conception Bay, and scores of relations are scattered over Newfoundland. The Scanlan family so long connected with telegraphy in this country, are cousins. All will be pleased to learn that the young cleric has attained his life object, and we wish him success in his sacred calling.[35]

Memories of Other Past Activities on Bennett's Lane:Edit

Local children used to go sledding in the area around Bennett's Lane. The following news article describes a run-in between some sledders and a couple of less-than-impressed women:

Mrs. A Pynn, her son, and a Miss B. Sheppard, were driving through the town on Saturday evening on their way to the Please U theatre, and when passing Bennett’s Lane, on Water St., the horse was taken completely off its legs by youngsters on a sleigh coasting down the hill. The old lady received a shaking up, the shaft of the sleigh was broken, but so far as could be seen the horse was uninjured. The perpetrators of the act had left the scene rather hurriedly, but the sleigh was arrested by Mrs. Pynn, in the hope of assisting the police to find the guilty party. There is no use mincing matters, the police will have to put a stop to this coasting down the hills in the town proper. It is dangerous to life and limb.[36]

Multiple newspapers describe an event in which Mr. George Whelan moved his entire barn from Military Road to Bennett's Lane. The reporter commented on the considerable distance of the move, and describes the innovative method that Mr. Whelan used, which he described as working "like a charm"[37]:

He called on Colonel Kennedy, of the C. C. C., and asked if the lads would give him a hand. Mr. Kennedy thought they would be glad to assist. Accordingly the lads were notified at 7 o’clock last evening they left their Armoury and marched, preceded by their drums, to the scene. Ropes were attached, and at the order from Major Grouchy to “quick march,” the barn was seen to fall in line, and seemed to be inclined to go at “double quick” time. Along Military Road, down Garland Street, up Harvey Street and down Bennett’s Lane to its new site, that barn went “with nobody shoving it” but of course a lot of willing hands hauling. By dark the building was placed on the intended site, much to the satisfaction of the owner.[37]

A second source describes this approach as "novel," and describes how "a drum march was played, and the advance order given in Major Grouchy’s commanding voice."[38] This is not the only house-moving recorded around Bennett's Lane as the town of Harbour Grace continued to evolve. A 1908 article records the example of Mr. John Davis who purchased, "the estates of the late Andrew Parsons" on Bennett's Lane, which he planned to move to LeMarchant Street.[39]

College LaneEdit

College Lane runs parallel to LeMarchant Street and Bannerman Street in Harbour Grace. It was previously known as Prendergast or Prendergast's Lane, possibly named for the Prendergast family.

The Prendergast SituationEdit

Politician and merchant James Luke Prendergast, born to James Pendergast in 1800, was involved in controversial and sometimes violent elections.[40] In 1840 he ran against Edmund Hanrahan of Carbonear in a by-election for House of Assembly. While both candidates were Liberals and Roman Catholics, Prendergast was supported by protestant merchants and Hanrahan was supported by the Catholic leaders. This lead to such an outburst of rioting (which seems to have earned the nickname Carbonearism in the area), that it required military intervention.[40][41]

While Prendergast successfully went on to have a political career, it was not without further controversy. The Town of Harbour Grace website explains the later incident:

The election of 1859 received a low turn-out due to violence. During that election the poll book was stolen, one candidate resigned, and two liberals were decleared victorious despite the fact that one, James Prendergast, had fewer votes than the opposing candidate Robert Walsh, who resigned under protest the day after the election due to fear for the safety of his supporters and family.[42]

Touissant's FireEdit

College Lane was one of the streets impacted by Toussant's Fire on April 12, 1858. In this second "great fire" of Harbour Grace, "the principal downtown trading quarter, between LeMarchant St and Victoria St, was reduced to ashes, and some 50 families were deprived of their trade or business, most of them being shopkeepers, tradesmen, or planters."[43] Among those afflicted were "The Misses Prendergast".[43] The 1858 fire started in Toussaint's hotel and burned for approximately three hours.[42]

Knights of ColumbusEdit

College Lane is home to the Harbour Grace Knights of Columbus building. The Knights of Columbus in Newfoundland first began in Harbour Grace in 1909 and has had a continuing presence.[44][45] They are listed as a local community organization in the 2018 report that emerged from the Harbour Grace People, Places, and Culture workshop.[46]

Trinity Conception Fall FairEdit

Pauline Cox of Harbour Grace strongest memories around College Lane are of the Trinity Conception Fall Fair. Every September, Thomas Amusements[47] - an amusement park company in Newfoundland and Labrador - would set up carnival rides for Harbour Grace in the S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium parking lot. The fair is now held at the Danny Cleary Community Centre. [48]

When interviewed, Cox recalled attending events in the S. W. Moores Stadium during the fair. The stadium housed games of chance and the Miss Newfoundland and Labrador Pageant (now held at The Splash Centre[49]), and remembered that leaving the Stadium meant leaving through the back into College Lane.[45] She recalled the fair, saying: "I remember being able to look out my bedroom window on the back of the house and you could see all the bright lights from the carnival rides just in the stadium."[45]

Lampens LaneEdit

 
Saint Paul's Anglican Church Hall in Harbour Grace NL as seen from Lampens Lane. Photo taken: February 2022.

Lampens Lane runs perpendicularly between Bennett's Lane and Cochrane Street. On one end lies the Bennett's Lane Cemetery; the other, Saint Paul's Anglican Church Hall and cemetery.

For approximately 150 years, a school once stood at one of the lane's ends as well. [50]

There, in 1770, John Griggs served as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel's (S.P.G.) "first school master in Newfoundland." At the time, the school fee was "a Crown per quarter per pupil." Poorer children's fees were to be covered by ten pounds which the Society paid to Griggs annually. Altogether, the school fees and the Society's contribution made up Griggs' salary. In a report on early education in the province, Griggs is called the first schoolmaster to explicitly describe (in a letter) using "the three R's curriculum" of "reading, writing, and arithmetic" to teach his students, of which there were approximately forty. [51]

Despite Griggs being the first teacher appointed by the S.P.G. in the province, the school where he taught and the lane which led to it came to be known for a later S.P.G. schoolmaster: Willam Lampen. [52] [53] Lampen taught seventy-five students for a salary of ten pounds in 1785. [54][55] In 1803, he established a Sunday School to extend the opportunity of an education to residents of the area who could not attend regular school hours. Over a century later, May Davis, conducting research for a history of education in Saint Paul's Anglican Parish, found the following report about Lampen and his Sunday School:

He is productive of much good to those whose parents are poor, and to those who are able but not willing to pay, and to those whose children are employed at the fishery during which time they are only home on Sundays. [56]

To teach his pupils to read, Lampen used a method common during the 1800s in Newfoundland. As longer words were considered more difficult to decipher,

...teachers began by teaching the alphabet, through memory, first, then words of two letters and next words of three letters on to words of four letters, five and six etc., with easy reading exercises, using these words along the way. [57]

Lampen likely taught until 1819, after which point his name no longer appears in annual school reports.[58] The building where he worked, Lampen's School, was demolished in 1931. [59]

Kerry LaneEdit

 
The Maples, ca. 1910

Kerry Lane is "a narrow irregular lane"[60] that runs from Water Street north to Harvey Street. It is said to be named after its many residents from County Kerry in Ireland, in the Province of Munster.[61][62] Following a successful seal hunt in 1863, savings allowed for the construction of a heavy stone wall around part of its expanse, as well as around Ridley Hall.[63] At the lane's southwest corner on Water Street stands the historic Simmons Residence, also known as "The Maples." This illustrious two-storey modified Queen Anne-style residence was built in 1903 as a summer residence for prominent Harbour Grace businessman Willis Davis (1861-1928), who died shortly thereafter and bequeathed it to his sister, Maud Elizabeth (Davis) Simmons (1879-1970).[64]

One interesting fact about Kerry Lane is that in March of 1875, a procession of nearly 500 people (according to The Star and Conception Bay Weekly Reporter) marched from the Customs House, which is now the Conception Bay Museum, to Kerry Lane in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. These individuals were members of the Benevolent Irish Society, suggesting that the Irish immigrant population in Harbour Grace was large and vocal of their heritage. In a Letter to the Editor, an enthusiastic reader claimed it was "the most magnificent" procession that they had ever seen.[65]

There is a strange tale of an Irish scholar called John Alexander Clance who was responsible for painting the a coat of arms on the exterior of Harbour Grace's courthouse. [66] According to the publication Decks Awash, Clance was "an imposing figure always dressed in a black frock coat, beaver hat, and a high, stiff collar adorned with a massive silk tie." [66] He lived at the Alms Boarding House in an area known as the Great Eastern, on the northeast corner of Kerry Lane, where Noel's Funeral Home now stands.[67] Legend has it that women in the community would give him food through his window because he was in such dire financial conditions.[68] He was mysteriously found dead in his room at the Alms Boarding House on January 20, 1865.[61]

Since 1993, Noel's Funeral Home has served as Harbour Grace's sole funeral home. However, their funerary heritage dates back to 1930, when William C. Noel and his son, Jonathan, established a carpentry business in Corner Brook specializing in casket making and later expanded into a funeral business with a horse-drawn hearse. After William's death in 1936, his two sons Jonathan and Reuben F. Noel continued to grow the business, acquiring one of Newfoundland's first motorized funeral coaches in 1951. Their services became increasingly relevant as wakes in private homes had declined in earnest by the late 1960s and early '70s. After Reuben's death in 1992, his son Kenneth E. Noel, who had joined the firm in 1974, oversaw the completion of the Harbour Grace funeral home.[69]

Many Harbour Grace residents, including Jane Lynch, used to take Kerry Lane as a shortcut to get to Water Street from the back of the Maples, and many people referred to it as the "Tennis Court Lanes" since it also lead directly into the tennis courts. Residents would use the laneway as a path and entryway to their tennis lessons during the summertime. [70]

Kingwells LaneEdit

 
A street sign indicating where Kingwells Lane meets Water Street.

Kingwells Lane extends from Water Street to Harvey Street. It passes between Saint Paul's Anglican Church Hall and an empty lot, from which the side of Ridley Hall is visible.

Reports from over the years have presented varying histories about this lane's name. In an article for the October 1936 publication of The Newfoundland Quarterly, W. A. Munn describes it as "Ward's Lane, formerly Kingswell Lane."[50] Another article, this time written by May Davis and published in the Winter 1972 issue, indicates that the name 'Ward's Lane' remained in use that year.[71] Most recently, a Conception Bay Museum document from August 2020 includes the description: "KINGWELL LANE once called Word's Lane." [53]

What most sources agree on is that both the names 'Kingwell' and 'Ward' belonged to Harbour Grace school teachers of the Colonial and Continental Church Society. [50][53][71] The C.C.C.S. itself has been the bearer of many names, including the 'Newfoundland School Society' and the 'Church of England Society for the Education of the Poor in Newfoundland and the Colonies'. [72]

John and Elizabeth Kingwell, "the first husband and wife teaching team in Newfoundland," came to Harbour Grace from Devon, England, in 1828. [53] There, the couple started a day school, even though no designated school building existed in the area at the time. They extended their work to include a Sunday School after "[r]eceiving at one time applications from 20 children begging to be taught to read and write." [56] After a few years, "a combined school-room and dwelling house was built [...] to the east of the Church residence." [56] Extraordinarily, the school survived the fire of 1832. As described by Mr. Kingwell:

At one time the school house was in extreme danger, the fire having come within 70 feet, but seeing its approach, I assembled my family and committed them and all our possessions into the hands of the Lord. A few minutes later, the wind changed, and the school was saved. [56]

In 1844, Mrs. Kingwell passed away; she was buried in St. Paul's Anglican Churchyard.[73] Mr. Kingwell later wed Mary Snow. In 1853, they relocated to Australia, where Mr. Kingwell died in 1863. He taught in Harbour Grace for 25 years. [53] Meanwhile, by 1840, William Ward "(familiarly known as 'Daddy Ward')" was teaching at a school located east of St. Paul's Anglican Church, in the laneway. [56] It is possible that this educator was William M. Ward (1813-1898) from Greater London, England, who now lies buried in Saint Paul's Anglican Cemetary. Ward's obituary, published in the Harbour Grace Standard from January 1898, reads:

One of the most aged, and one of the best and most respectable of the residents of our town passed quietly away to rest on Tuesday last, in the person of Mr. W. M. Ward, father of our esteemed citizen, Mr. W. Ward. Our old friend lived to a very advanced age, after a quiet, unobtrusive but busy and active life, the best of his days being spent in the education of youth. In this honorable profession he engaged with that interest and conscientious painstaking effort that characterized him, until the infirmities of old age bade him desist. [74]

Once, there was also a large pond at the top of Kingwells Lane and Church Hill, where Harvey Street is today, which was known as "Aunty Grace's Pond." It was wide enough to skate on during the winter months and to sail boats across in the summer. According to the October 1936 issue of The Newfoundland Quarterly, Aunty Grace was the widow of an Irish immigrant named Grace, and she lived in a small hut on the large property of a man called John Fitzgerald. She kept ducks and geese, and Mr. Fitzgerald never disturbed her or her animals throughout the duration of her life. [75] Aunty Grace was allegedly originally from County Kerry, Ireland, and could "never master the English language."[76] She had one son, Neddy, who left Harbour Grace as a sailor at a young age and never returned. Aunty Grace's Pond was drained in the 1870s.[76] It was reported to be a cabbage garden in 1891 by the Evening Telegram. [77]

Doctor's LaneEdit

Doctor’s Lane is the furthest east among the laneways in the Registered Heritage District. It extends from Water Street North to Harvey Street. Notable sites along its length are The Greyhurst property, Sinyard’s Pharmacy, and the Aero Tennis Club. According to the Conception Bay Museum, “Doctor’s Lane is named in honour of the many doctors who lived in Harbour Grace and so ably served the town since the days of the first Dr. Francis Ferrers, who was in Harbour Grace in 1765. Other early doctors were Peter LeBarron, John Moore, John Mayne, William Sterling [sic], John Sterling [sic] and William Allan.” [53]

Notable Doctors, Historic Epidemic Response, and The GreyhurstEdit

Dr. William Archibald Stirling (1785-1858), an ex-naval surgeon of the Royal Navy, came to Harbour Grace from Ireland and set up a highly successful medical and surgery practice.[78][79] He married Emma Mayne, the daughter of another Harbour Grace doctor, John Mayne. William and Emma had 11 sons; the second was William Stirling (1813-1891), who studied medicine in Edinburgh. He then returned to Harbour Grace to practice with his father, eventually settling in Twillingate in 1843 to establish a successful medical practice. He and his wife, Anne Peyton, had 10 children, the youngest of whom was to become Newfoundland’s first opera singer: Georgina Ann Stirling (1867-1935), often referred to as “The Nightingale of the North.”[79][80]

 
Dr. William Munden Allan, ca. 1894

Dr. William Allan (1806-1881), a surgeon, came to Newfoundland from Greenock, Scotland around 1837. In 1862, he moved with his family to Harbour Grace, where he succeeded his brother-in-law Dr. William Dow as district surgeon of Conception Bay and jail surgeon.[81] He and his wife Susannah Anne (Munden) Allan lived at The Greyhurst, one of the town’s oldest store buildings, located on Doctor's Lane and with an estate stretching from Harvey Street to Water Street.[82]

The son of William and Susannah, Dr. William Munden Allan (1843-1910), was a highly respected physician, surgeon, and community member, known for his work fighting epidemics of typhus and smallpox. Henry Y. Mott's 1894 portrait of Newfoundland men describes him as such:

Dr. Allan has been health officer, Gaol surgeon, and district surgeon of Harbor Grace since 1881, positions made vacant by the death of his father, whose practice the son succeeded to. He has also been president of the Conception Bay Medical Society since its origin in 1883... He was the first medical man ever sent to Labrador by the Newfoundland government, and in the years 1875-'76 treated over a thousand cases during a typhus fever epidemic there. In epidemic diseases Dr. Allan has been singularly successful, having stamped out a most virulent type of small-pox at Upper Island Cove, a settlement of 1,500 unvaccinated inhabitants, in 1889, and having at one time forty houses quarantined. In diphtheria he has been not less successful, and he has won a name and fame in those matters. His present practice is one of the largest in the island, and includes besides Harbor Grace a larger territory outside, requiring pluck, skill, and an almost iron constitution to stand up under. "Dr. Will" is very highly esteemed wherever he is known. In thinking of him and his many rare qualifications of head and heart, an unanswerable problem presents itself--he is a bachelor.[83]

 
The Greyhurst, ca. 1910

His 1910 obituary in The Harbour Grace Standard reads: "Assistant to his honored father, and afterwards on his own account, he practised his profession in this town for over forty years, building up a very extensive and prosperous practice... His name has become a household word in many a family, and he will be long and very greatly missed in this and sister towns where his father and he devoted themselves to the healing art for over threescore years."[84] Dr. Allan died suddenly at the age of 67 and was laid to rest at his home, The Greyhurst.[84] The building was purchased in 1911 by Harbour Grace resident John McRae[82], son of Roderick Duncan McRae (1846-1913), owner of the highly successful fishery supplies dealer R. D. McRae & Sons who had also pursued the Labrador fishery with a small set of schooners.[85][86] John Soper then purchased The Greyhurst from the McRae family in 1954 and built a service station behind the property on Harvey Street, tearing down the house a year later.[87]

Sinyard’s PharmacyEdit

 
Edward D. Freeman and his daughter Kathleen, 1962

The founder of Sinyard’s Pharmacy, Rex Sinyard, began his career as a pharmacist at Strapp’s Drug Store in 1962. Strapp’s was founded in 1900 by “esteemed and wonderful physician,” Dr. Walter A. Strapp[88], and was located on the corner of Bannerman Street and Water Street. The business was developed into an important community hub by Edward D. Freeman, who became its manager in 1906 at 20 years old and is recognized as Newfoundland’s first retail pharmacist.[89] Miraculously, a devastating fire in 1944, which destroyed the Government Building across the street, left Strapp’s Pharmacy intact and Freeman continued operating it until his retirement in 1967. Freeman’s daughter, Kathleen (Freeman) MacLean, followed his legacy by becoming Newfoundland’s first woman to receive a B.Sc. in Pharmacy[89]. Rex Sinyard apprenticed under Freeman and served as a pharmacist at Strapp’s in 1962. The Strapp’s building is today Easton 1602 Pub.[90] Sinyard later opened his own pharmacy at the bottom of Victoria Street, later relocating it to its present site at the north end of Doctor’s Lane where it serves as Harbour Grace’s sole pharmacy. Following a Valentine’s Day fire in 2013, the owner since 2008, Madonna Rose, opted to rebuild the pharmacy, which opened in July 2014.[91]

Aero Tennis ClubEdit

The Aero Tennis Club is Newfoundland’s oldest extant tennis club, established in 1919.[92] It hosted Newfoundland's first inter-community tennis tournament in 1923, which saw women’s teams participate from across the province.[93] In 1935 the club held its first Avalon Trophy competition among various tennis clubs on the Avalon Peninsula. Bally Haley of St. John’s won the first year.[94] The Aero Tennis Club held an annual dance every summer, featuring live music and elimination dances.

Ethnographic observationsEdit

This section includes stories and thoughts taken from ethnographic interviews conducted by students regarding laneways and memories on walking/exploring the area.

To Pat Collins, the largely unmarked laneways are easily overlooked. He was unaware of them until his adulthood, when he developed a passion for the history and heritage of Harbour Grace. Now, he walks them regularly with his wife, sharing both historical and imagined tales with her as they wind up one path and down the next. He recalls a night when they brought their granddaughter with them, long past her usual bedtime. As the laneways tend to be unlit, they carried lanterns. Along the way, Collins pretended to hear the voices of the dead and told ghost stories.

Collins incorporates the laneways into his work with The Conception Bay Museum. In the past, the museum has hosted annual Haunted Hikes, during which staff, including Collins, play roles such as "The Undertaker" and guide visitors around the heritage district. At various stops, actors portraying historical figures are stationed. For example, as the group approaches Kerry Lane, they might encounter someone bemoaning his involvement in the Harbour Grace Affray. About 300 people attended the last hike. According to Collins, such walking tours are benefitted by how the laneways provide views to several points of interest around the heritage district.[95]

When reflecting on growing up in Harbour Grace, Pauline Cox explained that she doesn’t remember the names of the laneways themselves too well, but instead, many of her memories were anchored to the buildings that the laneways led to. Within the laneways themselves, many of the memories that she elaborated on were of visiting with friends and relatives at their homes in the laneways. Describing the laneways often also led to discussing the locations and lineages of buildings in the area and the changes that they have seen throughout her lifetime. When discussing the future of the laneways, Pauline reported that she would like a project that helps people learn about the history of the laneways and the buildings around them. [45]

When Matt McCarthy and his friends were teenagers a typical weekend included bike rides, games of 'spotlight' and playing tennis on the court between Doctor’s Lane and Kerry Lane. Matt says his life was on the tennis court as a teenager and young adult. On the court, the kids took formal lessons, hung out with the coaches and organized their own games. They also spent a lot of time chasing errant balls hit over fences and into neighbouring yards. Spotlight is a game reminiscent of Hide-and-Seek. The game is played at night and in Matt’s version, people hide in pairs. As the name suggests, when the seeker finds a pair they a spotlight on them, usually for a count of two, at which point the pair is “out.”  They often played on different lanes and in the nearby cemeteries.[7]

 
The empty, unused land behind Ridley Hall in Harbour Grace.

Jane Lynch was born and raised in Harbour Grace, and is very proud of her town's rich history and heritage. When reflecting upon the laneways in Harbour Grace's Historic District, she remembers a time when they were regularly utilized for pedestrian traffic. For Lynch, the laneways were pathways to get from Water Street to Harvey Street and everything in-between, and an opportunity for people to experience the outdoors and hidden natural beauty of the Historic District. For example, she remembers taking the laneways to her tennis lessons as a teenager and vividly recalls the beautiful, luscious gardens behind Ridley Hall in the summertime. She also remembers when the laneways were mostly constructed of walkable and safe dirt paths. She expressed concern that the laneways are no longer properly looked-after, and that they pose potential threats to pedestrians as they've now covered with overgrown plants or full of sharp pebbles and rocks. Furthermore, due to their current poor conditions and unpleasing aesthetic, residents and tourists hardly use the laneways at all. Lynch thinks a community-focused project that incorporates a landscaping plan centred on historic revitalization, for example: re-creating the historic gardens that once existed behind Ridley Hall, and regular maintenance of the laneways would encourage local residents to use them for walking and exercise and for tourists to experience all that the town has to offer. [70]

One of Harbour Grace's most striking features is the SS Kyle, a passenger and cargo steamship that ran aground in the harbour in 1967. Randy Wrice, Town Councillor and Chair of the Harbour Grace Tourism and Heritage Committee, has many recollections of growing up in the area but his most special memory is from age seven, when he and his grandfather watched the Kyle float into Riverhead and run aground. "That memory is really close, really close to my heart. It’s a very, very clear memory... There were a lot of people watching it. There was a Nor’wester that day, I think, a big windstorm. We had big windstorms all the time. That was a little bit extra that time."[96]

Wrice also recalls walking on Doctor's Lane in the dark one night and being almost trampled by a moose cow and her calf. He darted out of the way in the nick of time, only to watch them run across Water Street and straight into the ocean. As they swam across the harbour, he shone a flashlight on them to ensure their safe landing at Feather Point on the south side of the harbour.[96]

 
Lillian Collis, ca. 1982

Another story Wrice recounts is about the old pump organ on LeMarchant Street. In 1982, Wrice and his family purchased the oldest house on LeMarchantt Street, built around 1869, and had to demolish a heavy organ in order to remove it from the house. It turns out that it was an organ owned by A. L. Collis & Sons, who had been previous owners of the house, out of which they ran a travelling piano/organ repair and tune-up business beginning in 1910. The junior Collis, James Leslie (1918-1982), inherited the business when the senior Athelstan Collis died in 1940. In 1943, Leslie married Lillian Martin, from nearby Coley's Point, and they acquired an old, three-story property on Water Street that had survived the great fire of 1944. They used this building as a piano showroom and repair/finishing shop, which continued operating until 2001.[97] Wrice describes how as early as the 1940s, every Friday evening the men would bring the organ out onto the street and Lillian Collis would play the organ as people gathered around to listen.[96]

George Butler, a proprietor of the Rothesay House, finds the laneways have unrealized potential for tourism. He suggests that the laneways can be dark and unkempt, making them less appealing to walk and harder for tourists to access. Overall he emphasizes the value of aesthetic restoration in the heritage district to bring out the town's character and draw interest.[98]

How could this information be used by the Town?Edit

This section contains suggestions/ideas/recommendations from students about how this information could be used for public interpretation/programming of the district.

  1. Create an exhibit in the Conception Bay Museum with free walking tour pamphlets that expand on the exhibit and correspond with different places in the Heritage District. This could broaden the scope of the museum experience into the town and encourage visitors to walk through the laneways. For example:
    • An exhibit on the practice of moving houses within Harbour Grace, with a walking tour that follows the pathways that those houses took through the town.
  2. Install storyboards along the lanes with QR codes. The codes would link to two-minute video recordings of people acting out what used to be near a laneway (or even parts of Harbour Grace which are further away from that laneway but still visible from it). For example, a QR code might generate a clip of Peter Downing, a murderer, discussing his crime.[99]
  3. Guided tours of the laneways to interpret the lanes and local history.[7]
  4. Interpretive signage,[7] which may include QR codes, for Bennett’s Lane Cemetery. These QR codes could link to interpretive content about those buried there, or the cemetery itself.
  5. Collaborating with the municipal Harbour Grace government and community organizations such as the Conception Bay Museum, organizers could create a landscaping plan to upgrade the gardens behind Ridley Hall and throughout the Historic District laneways. This would encourage healthy pedestrian use for residents and tourists.[70] With the new Yellowbelly Brewery location opening up [100] in the old Harbour Grace courthouse, the town could partner with the brewery to encourage restaurant patrons to experience the town's Historic District by taking a stroll through the laneways after enjoying a drink.
  6. General tidying of the properties adjacent to the laneways. That may entail cleaning up yards, planting flowers, and ensuring there is no litter on the paths. Clover may be considered in lieu of grass on grassy portions of paths; clover has the advantage of staying green all summer, requiring little to no mowing, attracting beneficial insects, and outcompeting other weeds. Tasteful lighting would also add to visual appeal, as well as drawing interest and increasing safety.
  7. One resident suggested a pavement/interlocking stone combination on the laneways. For instance, Doctor's Lane could be paved with concrete about halfway from the centre of the lane north to Harvey Street, near the tennis club. The south end of the laneway could be paved with interlocking brick or stone and perhaps also bordered by the dry stone rock walls that are so iconic in the Harbour Grace Heritage District.[96]

ReferencesEdit

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  2. Burry, Miles; Handrigan, Patrick; Reid, Sarah (2020). Harbour Grace Heritage District Development Plan. St. John's: Heritage NL. https://heritagenl.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Harbour-Grace-Heritage-District-Development-Plan-and-Ridley-Hall-Adaptive-Reuse-Study.pdf. 
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Category:Humanities Category:History Category:Social sciences