Showing posts with label telegraph. Show all posts
Showing posts with label telegraph. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Staff Cable Houses: Part of the Telecommunications History of Heart's Content

In February of 2023, Heart's Content, NL and Valentia, Ireland, were added to the Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Status, one step closer to recognition ten years in the making. The two sites for the first Transatlantic cable, laid in 1866, connected Europe and North America and enabled quicker and more reliable communication between the two continents. The Anglo-American Cable Company established a permanent cable station in Heart's Content in 1875/76. One of the buildings they constructed was the Cable Staff Houses, a duplex for housing employees of the cable station. 

Photo of the Cable Staff Houses #1 and #2 in 2017.

Built in 1882, the house was designed by J.T. Southcott, a prominent architect in Newfoundland for introducing the Second Empire Style of architecture. 

The duplex has undergone significant restorations since its designation as a Registered Heritage Structure in 1995 to preserve and maintain this building. The Cable Staff House has a mansard roof, an architectural feature associated with the Second Empire Style and Southcott's designs. 

The Cable Staff House Mansard Roof (L): Prior to restoration in mid 1990s (R): Following restorations in 2017.

The building also has decorative eaves brackets, visible in the pictures below.

Before and after pictures of the buildings eaves brackets. (L): Picture prior to restoration in 1990s (R): Photo after restoration in 2017.

Photo of the Cable Staff House's windows. (L): Photo from mid 1990s (R): After restoration in 2017.

Another key design element of the Cable Staff Houses is the variety of styles of windows, some of which are 2/2 while others are larger and multi-paned. The house also has several dormer windows, which were restored in 2018. 

The Cable Staff Houses received the Newfoundland Historic Trust's Southcott Award for Restoration in 1999.

You can learn more about the Cable Staff Houses at the links below:

Monday, November 22, 2021

Some photos from the Hant's Harbour Post Office (and revisiting an interview with the postmaster)

Heritage NL was in Hant's Harbour last week, and we had a quick look at the old post office/telegraph office. This small building has an intriguing history, but the elements have not been kind to it lately. Dale Jarvis took the opportunity to take a few photos, which you can see below.

For more on the building, you can see an adaptive reuse study we did in 2020: 

or you can listen to our interview with telegrapher and former postmaster, Clarence Snook:

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Living Heritage Podcast Ep163 Clarence Snook, Hant's Harbour Telegrapher and Postmaster

Mr. Clarence Snook was born in Hant’s Harbour on Hallowe'en Day, October 31, 1926.  He was an only child, the son of Alfred and Hazel Snook. As a boy, he was interested in Morse telegraphy, and studied under an ex-school teacher over one winter to learn the skill. The following spring, when postmistress Miss Melina Critch took ill, he was asked if he could fill in. “Well I’ll try to get along with it,” he said, and he did, for 11 years.

In this episode, we talk about his memories of the Hant's Harbour Post Office, his work as a telegrapher, and his time as an RCAF aircraft spotter during the Second World War.

This past summer, intern Patrick Handrigan worked on some drawings and a report for some possible adaptive reuses for the old Hant's Harbour Post Office (see mockup photo below). You can look at Patrick's report here.


The Living Heritage Podcast is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio. Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Remembering the Hant's Harbour Post and Telegraph Office, an interview with Clarence Snook.

On 10 June 2019, Dale Jarvsi sat down for a chat with Mr Clarence Snook, of Hant’s Harbour, NL, at his apartment at the Admiral's Coast Retirement Centre, Conception Bay South. Now in his 90s, Mr Snook had been the telegraph operator and postmaster in Hant's Harbour for 11 years,  starting before the end of the second World War. This is his story of how he got started and of the women who trained him in. 

Well the lady retired through illness and I had been interested in telegraph, in Morse telegraphy at the time. I was training through another lady, an ex-school teacher over there who also was a postmistress at one time. She was proficient in Morse code, so I went through all one winter and trained under her to learn the Morse telegraphy.

So the following spring, the lady there, Miss Melina Critch, she had been there for many years and her health broke down, and the secretary of... telegraphs – who was the Newfoundland government at that time – called, and wondered if I could struggle through with it even though I hadn’t been officially in the office but I had been trained.

So I said, “Well I’ll try to get along with it,” and I did, and I was there for 11 years, just about 11 years.

I’d just finished high school. I suppose I was probably 18? I had trained in telegraphy independent of the post office that winter. I was attending classes for this lady who’d – I don’t know where she came from, somewhere from out in the community – and I knew that she was proficient in telegraphy. And by arrangement with her schedule I used to go there nights, and eventually I became I suppose proficient in the Morse code.

I was there all long winter, you know, spasmodic right? I didn’t go there every night now but pretty well I’d be there three or four times a week, you know? And it went over very well. She was good as a teacher. And then of course I went over – when Miss Critch [left] – she must’ve been there for I’d say 25 or 30 years.

She was what I would term almost a Florence Nightingale of the community. In those days everybody were letter-writers, and if there was somebody who couldn’t express themselves very well in a letter, they’d go to Melina, Miss Melina, and ask her to write the letter.

She spent hours and weeks I suppose that she never got paid for, nor did she charge for. She was just an angel; that’s the way to put it. She was the nerve centre of the community. In those days were only two radios, not short-wave but long-wave radios, in the community, and she would have to take the news, so-called, and like this time of the year when the sealing ships were out there, the Imogene and the Kyle, etc., etc., they would report back and she would record this in long foolscap books and hand-write it, believe it or not.

This was for the information of the public, to go to the public of the post office and read this. That was the news centre.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Identify this Telegraph Artifact

At the ICH Office we are putting together an exhibit with the Road to Yesterday Museum in Bay Roberts to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the cable station. As part of this exhibit, we are working on identifying some of the telegraph artifacts that are currently mysteries to us and the museum. 

One item I've become slightly enamored with is this little brass oddity. My guess is that it's some sort of manual ticker tape winder or an attachment to a teleprinter. The engraving on the top reads "Honore Patent / Creed and Co. Ltd / Makers / London. 

I did a bit of research and learned Creed and Co. was a British telecommunications company that was an important pioneer in the field of teleprinter machines. Founded by Frederick George Creed and Harald Bille, it was first incorporated in 1912 as "Creed, Bille & Company Limited". After Bille's death in a railway accident in 1916, his name was dropped from the company's title and it became Creed & Company. Then in 1928 the company merged into the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. It then stands to reason this item was most likely manufactured between 1916 and 1928.

If you have any idea as to what this artifact is, or if you have memories of the cable station in Bay Roberts, we'd love to hear from you. 

Nicole can be reached at 1-888-739-1892 ex.6 or at via email at