Showing posts with label city of st. john's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label city of st. john's. Show all posts

Friday, March 20, 2020

Photographs from Bowring Park, St. John's, taken in the 1930s.

Bowring Park in St. John's was officially declared open on July 15, 1914 by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught. At the opening, the Duke hoped that "May it ever be a source of pleasure and enjoyment to the citizens of St. John's and to Newfoundland in general."

These 1930s-era photos are from a collection donated by Ruth Noseworthy Green, and for the most part feature the family of Arthur Taylor, of Southside, St. John's.

Arthur Taylor, 1932

Bowring Park, 1932.  

Max and his brother Arthur Taylor in Bowring Park, 1936.

Arthur Taylor, 1932, Bowring Park Boat Pool and Wharf.

Bowring Park Boat Pool, 1932. 

The "Boat Pool" or "Boat Lake" is now known as the Duck Pond. It was designed by landscape architect Rudolf H. Cochius and completed in June, 1913.  If you look very closely at the centre of the above photo, you can make out a small octagonal building:

Bowring Park Boat Pool, 1932, detail, sharpened.

Could this structure be an early duck house? In 1946, the park became home to six white swans, and a Chinoiserie-style octagonal Swan House was constructed, which you can see clearly in the photo below of the Boat Pond from 1946, taken from the History of Bowring Park.

Boat Pond, 1946, possibly by TB Hayward.

Do you have an early photo of Bowring Park? Email me at

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A rare look inside the St. John's Tuberculosis Sanatorium.

This week, we were in North River helping scan photos and recipes as part of an ongoing community project. One of the participants, Sylvia Hurley, had a great collection of family photos, including some which were taken at or inside the tuberculosis sanatorium in St. John's. They give an interesting peek inside "The San" at Christmastime, decorated for the season.  The photos are undated, and the people in the photographs are unknown. Comment or contact us if you have any information!

The idea of a sanatorium in St. John's was supported by Governor Sir William MacGregor in 1908, and meetings on the tuberculosis crisis led to the formation of the Newfoundland Association for the Prevention of Consumption. A tuberculosis camp for women was established near Mundy Pond in 1911, but the outbreak of the First World War put plans for a larger facility on hold until 1916-17. After the Second World War, drugs to fight tuberculosis improved, and by 1972, all the sanatoria beds in the province had been closed.

If you have photos or memories of the sanatorium, email

UPDATE: 27 April 2020

Christina Penney send on this photo, also from the san, featuring her great aunt. She writes,
She's the patient in the bed on the left. Her name was Christina May Alexander, born in Bonavista in 1915, and died in the Sanitorium in St. John's in 1942 (age 27). Looks like another Christmas photo, but I'm not sure the exact year, but probably early 1940s.

Can you identify any of the other people?

UPDATE: 1 May 2020

Robert "Bob" Francis sent us three more photos, and some more photo-identification work. He writes,
The first picture us of my mom, Lucy who was in the San in the mid 1950s. The second picture is of my mom and her sister in law, Dorothy who was also in the San. The third picture is of myself, on the left, age 5, the other person is unknown.

If you have a memory of the sanatorium, post below, or if you have old photos, send them to me at and I'll add them here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

You are invited to the Georgestown Scanning and Mapping Party!

Georgestown Scanning and Mapping Party
Tuesday, May 14th at 7:00 p.m. at the Lantern.
35 Barnes Rd, St. John's, NL A1C 3X1

Did you grow up on Barnes Road or Maxse Street? Did you hang out at Rawlins Cross, or shop at W.J. Murphy’s? Did someone in your family own one of the old Georgestown shops? If you did, and have photos of any of those things, the Georgestown Neighbourhood Association and Heritage NL’s Intangible Cultural Heritage office would love to see your snaps!

Of interest are old photos of the neighbourhood, anywhere from the 1880s to the 1980s. Photos could be family snapshots, old photos showing parties, games or sporting events, cars decorated for weddings, or of any of the old shops and stores that once dotted the area.

In addition, there will be large maps available to mark the location of informal place names and neighbourhood landmarks, everything from sweet shops and barbers to dance studios and that special spot where you met with your buddies, where you played certain games, or brought your special friend.

“We want to see those photos Nan kept in the old biscuit tin in the closet,” says folklorist Dale Jarvis with Heritage NL. “Sometimes photographs from the 1970s and ‘80s include things like storefronts or shop signs that are now long gone, so even if they aren’t ancient, they can still help us document changes to the neighbourhood.”

Heritage NL staff will be on site to scan the photographs and ask questions about who or what is in the photo. If you bring your own USB flash drive, you can take home a digital copy as well as your original photographs.

Photos will also be shared online with the owner’s permission, and a copy will be uploaded to Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative, which is indexed and archived for history buffs everywhere.

Questions? Call Dale Jarvis at 1-888-739-1892 x2 or email

Facebook event listing right here.

Photo of the Newfoundland Brewery Ltd colourized by

Monday, December 25, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Christmas Memories with Joan Keating

Ron and Joan Keating.
On October 23, 2017, as part of the Collective Memories project, I interviewed Joan Keating of St. John’s. Joan was born in the 1940s and grew up on Cookstown Road and Kent Place in St. John’s. In this interview we discuss children’s games, local shops and stores, and of course Christmas memories. Listen to the clips below to hear Joan describe how her family would deliver Christmas present to family members by slide, and hear some of her recollections of the Water Street Christmas raffle.

If you would like to listen to the full clip click here to visit Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative.

How did you celebrate Christmas? Did you deliver presents by slide? Do you recall the Christmas raffle?

~Terra Barrett

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The X-Ray Machines of Old St. John's

If you talk to enough people about the way St. John’s used to be, a few reoccurring stories begin to emerge. Some of these stories describe the advent of new machinery in the downtown. For instance, the allure of the first escalator in St. John’s, at Woolworth’s department store, is an oft-cited memory. As the story goes, crowds of people showed up in the store for the sole purpose of riding the escalator. Lynn Anne Hollett also recalled the stir caused by an early TV set, which could be gazed at through the window of Great Eastern Oil on Water Street. Though no sound could be heard through the glass, there were usually "about four deep there of people watching that black and white TV." However, while escalators and TVs are all around us these days, other contraptions of downtown St. John’s have (perhaps wisely) fallen out of favour. One of these contraptions is the shoe store x-ray machine, otherwise known as a “fluoroscope”:

Wayne Guzzwell, who went on to become a CBC producer, and who later oversaw the Cabot 500 celebrations in 1997, the 50th Anniversary of Confederation Gala, and the Vikings 1000 Islendingur arrival ceremony, shared his memories of the gadget during our interview: 

Wayne: I wanted to go to the Royal Stores because the Royal Stores had this neat machine that—you put your new shoes on, you’d stand up to the machine, and you put your feet in the machine, and then there was a scope, and you’d look down, and it was an x-ray machine. And you could see your toes inside the shoe. So you could see if there was enough room for your feet. So, you know, our feet were probably massively radiated by the x-rays, but I thought I was Superman at the time, because I could see my feet through the shoes. And that was a really neat aspect of the Royal Stores, that x-ray machine. And that’s the only thing I would buy at the Royal Stores, or my family would buy, was shoes, and it was because of the x-ray machine.

Lynn Anne Hollett also brought up the x-ray machine during our interview, saying that "at least once a week you'd get away with it":

Lynn Anne: It was a big thing. Can you imagine what we were exposed to at that particular time? I mean, it was just like if you go over there now and put your foot into a sizer and say, “Okay, we’re going to do an x-ray right here, right now.” And I mean, you’d go down there for play. I mean, at least once a week you’d get away with it, to get down there and have an x-ray done of your foot. [laughs] Those poor salesmen. I don’t know how they fared, or how long they lived after that particular thing.
Andrea: So the salesmen would have to administer the x-ray?
Lynn Anne: Yeah! Yeah, right? No lead aprons or anything then, no, definitely not.
Andrea: So that was a big thing for kids, mostly?
Lynn Anne: Oh yeah, and adults! I mean, can you imagine? They can tell the exact size of my foot because I’m getting an x-ray. Wonderful! 
Andrea: Do you think the appeal was mostly seeing your bones?
Lynn Anne: Yes, of course! And it was new, and it was amazing. Like, “That’s my foot!” I mean, what doctor ever showed you an x-ray if you ever had one as a child? None! You know, as they sat smoking in their examining room. But you know, who knew that radiation was a problem or that it existed? You know, nobody. 

These exciting (but in all likelihood, highly regrettable) machines certainly drummed up business for the shoe stores during their heyday (around the 1950s), but by the 1970s, they had largely been banned.

Do you remember the shoe store x-ray machines?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"This Is Going to Be a Bad Night for St. John's" - The Great Fire of 1892 #Folklorephoto

View of the city from Duckworth Street east after the fire of 1892. Photo courtesy of MUN Archives and Special Collections (05 01 006) 
"This place is going to burn down, my boy," he remarked jovially, to an acquaintance: "go home and pack your little bundle." Still, people believed Water Street perfectly safe. I went into tea and was greeted with the news that all west of the Episcopal cathedral was burned. Scotland Row, the range of houses in front of the cathedral, was then burning. People were gradually becoming panic-stricken. I remarked to my landlord at tea: "This is going to be a bad night for St. John's." - Our Great Fire, By An Eye-Witness in the Morning Despatch July 19th 1892 
This July marks the 125th anniversary of the Great Fire of 1892, which destroyed much of St. John's and is remembered as the worst disaster to befall the city. The City's commemorative activities will take place on Saturday, July 8th and Sunday, July 9th, 2017.  Visit City of St. John's for scheduled of events.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Life-Changing Experience: Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers Booklet Launch

Lossie Trask, Linda Furey, Marie Ryall, Ruby Hann, Terra Barrett, Dale Jarvis, and Mayor Dennis O'Keefe at the booklet launch. 
On Tuesday the Heritage Foundation and the City of St. John’s Community Services Department launched the booklet A Life-Changing Experience: Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers. The booklet launch took place in the Foran Green Room of City Hall at the Council Meeting. The five volunteers who were interviewed for the booklet came out and were treated to some snacks before being invited into the Council Meeting where the booklet and the women were recognized.

A Life-Changing Experience: Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers is the first booklet in the Collective Memories Series produced by the Heritage Foundation. This booklet focuses on the experience of five City of St. John’s volunteers and their reflections and advice on volunteering in the community. The bulk of the work for this project was completed by Conservation Corps summer student Sarah Hannon who completed interviews, transcribed, and edited the booklet.

The volunteer booklet is part of the foundation’s Collective Memories Project. This project is an initiative of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, with funding provided by the Department of Children, Seniors, and Social Development. The Collective Memories Project invites seniors to record their stories and memories for sharing.

If you want to learn more you can head to to hear the full interviews or you can check out PDF here!

~Terra Barrett