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History of King's Cove





Section I-The Church of England

Unfortunately we have no records of the incumbents of the Church of England beyond the dates of their arrival and departure. The first incumbent was the Rev. Henry James Fitzgerald. He carne to King's Cove in 1838 and was succeeded two year later by Rev. Thomas Wood. The latter spent only a year there and was succeeded by Rev. Benjamin Smith-father of the well-known Canon Smith, for many years Incumbent at Portugal Cove, and grandfather of Warwick Smith. Parson Smith spent twelve years at King's Cove. He was both doctor and clergyman. It was he that built the old church which was supplanted by the present fine building erected during Rev. William Kirby's incumbency. In 1853 Rev. Benjamin Smith was transferred to Trinity. His son- the late Canon Smith-was born at King's Cove. When the family left King's Cove in 1853, the future Canon was six years old. He has left a few reminiscences of his childhood there. Skipper Richard Handcock took the family to Trinity in his schooner as there was no road between King's Cove and Trinity at this early period. The gallant Captain took the future Canon on his shoulders and carried him down to the wharf o, Michael Murphy & Sons and put him on the deck of the schooner.

The Rev. John Moreton succeeded Parson Smith. His brother -Rev. Julian Moreton was Incumbent at Greenspond. He made occasional visits to his brother at King's Cove. On returning to Greenspond after each visit he took with him a two-gallon jar of fresh spring water. This article was a luxury to him as the water at Greenspond was noted for its disagreeable flavour. Mr. Moreton wrote a book-Fourteen Years' Missionary Work in Bonavista Bay." This book is now very rare. Though small it is interesting as it gives an idea of pioneer life at that time.

Rev. John Moreton was succeeded by Rev. William Kirby in 1859, and for forty,-nine years directed the ecclesiastical work of King's Cove parish. During that long period it has been possible for local journalists to make an appreciation of his character and work.

Mr. Kirby was a broadminded Englishman, sarcastic and quick at repartee. He was wholly free from sectarian bias, and had the goodwill of the Catholic population equally with that of his own flock. He built the present church and he frequently declared that the speedy completion of the building was due in no small measure to the help of the Catholic people of King's Cove.

Parson Kirby was a short, stocky man, with brown hair, florid complexion, and wore heavy side-whiskers. He was fond of outdoor sports, and was easily recognised as the best skater in the parish. People often stood in their doorways watching him skate on the "Pond" in the centre of King's Cove harbor. He was an enthusiastic disciple of Isaac Walton and spent the greater part of every summer trouting in the numerous ponds around the neighbourhood. Early of a summer forenoon he could be seen in his "gig" driving his pony leisurely out of King's Cove with his trout basket and other fishing paraphernalia, bound for one of his favourite trouting haunts. The dusk of the evening saw him return just as leisurely. In several of the ponds, he had small flat- bottomed boats about six feet long, square at both ends, light enough to be pulled on the Banks by one man and capable of holding only one person. With the aid of these boats he could track the weary trout to his hiding place. He had an accurate knowledge of the ponds and their trouting capabilities and could interest an audience by his fish stories. All of a fine summer day, with the soft tremors of the west wind barely rippling the water, he floated in his frail barque and flung his "flies" to the four points of the compass. It was an idyllic life. The world had been going on for thousands of years before he came into it, and he was willing to let it go on without worrying about it.

He organized a club-room in Handcock's store and night after night, he would strive for mastery in chequers, forty-fives or bagatelle. He was a brilliant raconteur, witty, sarcastic, trenchant in argument-especially when aroused. His opponent would need to be a skilled dialectician to get the better of him in argument. He had extremely mobile lips and a slight cast in one of his eyes and when aroused in argument, there was a dangerous curl in his lips and a sinister gleam in his eye. He was on several occasions the bete noir of the Synod meetings. One night. at the club room, he told how on one occasion he made a remark to a brother cleric on a subject that was to be discussed at the Synod meeting.

"There's no use bothering about that," his colleague admonished him; "that's all cut and dry."

    "Is that so?" I asked; well, we'll see."

"When I went into that meeting and got hold of that particular subject, I let everybody know that is wasn't all cut and dry." Then followed a burst of ironical laughter.

In the sixties, before a permanent doctor settled at King's Cove, Mr. Kirby did splendid humanitarian work for the community by keeping and dispensing medicines. In those days, the people were frequently cut off from the advantages of medical aid, and the clergymen who like Mr. Kirby, and his predecessor, Parson Smith, endeavoured to keep the simple remedies for the alleviation of human suffering were benefactors whose services to humanity have unfortunately been too scantily acknowledged.

Mr. Kirby died on April l5th, 1908, at the age of 73 years. He was succeeded by Rev. S. A. Dawson. Mr. Dawson spent sixteen years in the parish and left in 1922. He was succeeded by Rev. Llewellyn Godden. Mr. Godden has been retired since 1939. He is still living at King's Cove. Rev. Mr. Spurrell succeeded Mr. Godden. He remained in King's Cove three years, when he was promoted to Catalina. The present Incumbent is Rev. T. Short.

Section 2-The Catholic Church

Father Sinnott was the first priest to take charge of the Kings Cove Parish. He came to King's Cove about the year 1815. The Parish at that time extended from Fortune Harbour to Heart's Content-a coastline of 500 miles.

Father Sinnott had been an editor of a Public newspaper before he studied for the priesthood. A slight quarrel arose between himself and McBraire's Agent-Michael Murphy-but this was evidently patched up, for Murphy afterwards presented Father Sinnott with a chalice. The donor's name and date "1818" are inscribed on the pedestal. This chalice is still in use every Sunday at Open Hall chapel and after 124 years is in just as good condition as when presented.

It was Father Sinnott who built the old chapel in 1825. Before its erection, Mass was said in an old store owned by McBraine later occupied by Munn & Carroll.

Two large oil paintings-one of the Crucifixion and the other -"St. Peter and Paul", to whom the old chapel was dedicated- were hung on each side of the altar. They were painted in Spain and bought for the old chapel from two contributions of a hundred and two pounds by McBraire's agent-Edmond Mullowney and a Planter Thomas Walsh. Thomas Walsh was the great grandfather of the Carrolls and McGraths of "Longshore."

It was customary in those days to call out from the altar the names of the parishioners, asking each in turn how much he intended giving towards the erection of the chapel. Mr. Mullowney's name was called first. He said he would give fifty pounds. Mr. Walsh-the next called-said he would give fifty too. Father Sinnott marked Walsh down for fifty-two. It was with these two amounts that the two paintings mentioned above, were bought.

Father Nicholas Devereaux came to King's Cove as curate to Father Sinnott in 1826. The following year Father Sinnot went on a twelve months' trip to Europe. He visited Ireland, England, Scotland and France. He left King's Cove in 1831 for the United States. He died in Ireland.

Father Devereaux spent 19 years in King's Cove. He is buried in the old cemetery where his sarcophagus still exists in good condition. It was while he was parish priest that Bishop Fleming made his first episcopal visitation to King's Cove. In his letters to the Rev. John Spratt of Dublin, Bishop Fleming writes of his visit to King's Cove in the following words:

"But why should I close this letter without acknowledging the warmth of feeling exhibited to us in King's Cove by Mr. Mullowney of Cork-a gentleman truly worthy of representing John McBraire, Esq., of Tweedhill in Berwickshire, son of the late warmhearted James McBraire, Esq., the most opulent merchant of this country, and one of the most benevolent founders of the Benevolent Irish Society, always remarkable for the munificence of his donations to the poor, and his kindness to the Catholic clergy.

Mr. Mullowney received us with that cordiality which marks his character and tried every means in his power and indeed with considerable success to alleviate our sufferings. Here we enjoyed comforts which those only can appreciate who have passed nights and days together ever sitting in one spot and in one posture without daring to move, and even then only varying by snatching a hasty repose stretched at the bottom of a fishing boat or upon the bare surface of the hard rock. We did enjoy the hospitality of Mr. Mullowney, and when we were forced to move for another harbor, he had a boat prepared for our reception-the master-Thomas Walsh and crew of which were directed not to leave us until we had finished our tour."

Rev. Thomas Waldron succeeded Father Devereaux. Father Waldron built the old church in Open Hall. During his annual visitation to St. John's he visited a cholera case and having caught the disease, he died from its effects, in 1854. He was buried at St. John's. Father Waldron had as his curate the Rev. William Forrestal, who afterwards became attached to the Cathedral Parish at St. John's. He did not like the rigours of the northern climate and did not stay long at King's Cove. Father Cleary took Father Forrestal's place for a few years.

Rev. Matthew Scanlan had been curate to Father Waldron at Bonavista. When the latter died Father Scanlan came to King's Cove. He was a man of forceful character. Stout, stocky and rotund, he ruled his parish by fear. The energy of his unwieldly swagger, the sullenness of his thick-lidded eyes and the pugnacious set of his lower lip were sufficient to warn his interviewers to be circumspect in their speech and behaviour. His sudden or unexpected appearance was similar to the advent of a general to review his troops: everyone stood at attention. He had a habit of jingling money in his pockets: and the devotees on the chapel floor jerked themselves from their crouching attitude when they heard the familiar jingle break the stillness of the church air. With both hands deep in his capacious pants' pockets, he sauntered up through the chapel, looking leisurely to the right and the left to note the absentees-to the left where all the men, as was customary in these days, knelt together on the floor, and then to the right where the women occupied a similar position.

Annually he auctioned the pews for the ensuing twelve months. There were no pews on the ground floor; the pews were elevated about seven feet above the ground floor and ran along each side of the building. His sarcastic remarks on these occasions were typical of the Irish priests of the olden days. At one of these auctions, someone called out:

    "One shillin' more for Lawton's pew."

    Father Scanlan turned quickly towards the speaker:

"Indeed then, you won't get it," came the withering reply; "Lawton always paid for his pew and that 's more than you did."

He was easily aroused to anger, and his language on these occasions was anything but complimentary to the object of his wrath. One day he visited the school in King's Cove, then in charge of Will Hartry. The building seemed to quake when he entered. The pupils felt as terrified as if a jaguar or same other wild animal had burst in upon them. He began to scold Hartry for some paccadillo and finally stalked through the door, finishing up with "you blockhead." Hartry stood meekly before his class during the fusillade and after the priest's exit he quietly continued his work.

With all his boisterous exterior, Father Scanlan had progressive ideas. He built schools at King's Cove, Knight's Cove and San Croix-halfway between Broad Cove and Keels. He had planned the building of a Convent. All the necessary lumber was placed on the ground-even the sand for the chimneys. There were no horses in King's Cove in these days; but the men and women brought the lumber on their backs up the steep incline which then served as a road, to the chapel. When all the lumber was on the site, dancing was started in the open air. Maurice Devine-P. K. Devine's grandfather-supplied the music with his violin.

The Convent, however, was never built. The parishioners never learnt why its erection was never undertaken; but it was generally supposed that the Parish was not prosperous enough to support a community of nuns.

Rev. James Browne was a curate with Father Scanlan for a few years. He was transferred to Tilton Harbor where he died.

About the year 1865 Father Scanlon went to live at Bonavista, as it was an easier place for a man of his advancing years. Rev. James Cummins who had been his curate at Bonavista, took his place at King's Cove. He stayed till 1871. His curacy was not marked by any outstanding advancement in the Parish. Ill-health confined him a good deal to his room, and his parishioners did not see much of him. In the latter part of his curacy he seldom officiated in the chapel, and whenever he did conduct service, it was generally accompanied by a vituperative harangue concerning some village gossip. One evening in Lent whilst the Rosary was being recited by the schoolmaster, the congregation were rather startled by Father Cummins' sudden appearance, walking leisurely up the aisle and going inside the altar rails. He knelt on the altar steps till the Rosary was- over, then in the flickering light of the few candles on the altar, walked to the rails and commenced a biting invective against some village gossip concerning supposed dereliction of his parish duties.

"A set of old bitches sat down to dinner not long ago," he declared passionately, "and when they were done carving the chicken, they began carving mc."

Father Cummins was at that time a young handsome man of slight build, highly florid complexion and a luxurious crop of auburn hair. He left King's Cove in 1871 and was transferred to Northern Bay.

Father Cummins was succeeded by Rev. John Walsh, who stayed only a few months. He was a tall, dark man, slow and solemn in his movements and of a reserved and taciturn disposition. The severe expression of his mouth gave one the idea that he could never laugh. His aloofness and reserve made him unpopular and he was for a long time unable to procure a housekeeper. He had to get two of his altar boys to cook his meals. On one occasion he requested them to procure a fresh fish for his breakfast, The fish was obtained, cleaned aged put into a frying pan with an inordinate amount of Canadian butter. Father Walsh kept walking the kitchen floor while the frying process was going on. The savoury odor which arose from the frizzling butter undoubtedly aroused in the forlorn priest a pleasing forecast of an appetising breakfast. It had its reaction also on the gustatory glands of the chief cook who as yet had had no breakfast that morning. Every now and again, after moving the fish to keep it from burning, he licked the delicious melted butter from the tip of the knife. Father Walsh bore it for a while. Then his heavy tread on the kitchen floor was silent and in despairing tones he said:

    "Don't do that; don't do that."

The fish was finally laid before him in the parlor. The chief cook and his assistant watched him furtively through a chink in the door panel while they munched stray scraps of bread from the kitchen table. The table bell rang. The chief cook opened the door. Father Walsh, pointing t-o the fish said laconically:

    "Take this away; l don't think I'll eat it n

The cooks closed the door and in a few minutes only the bones of the fish were left.

After a brief sojourn Father Walsh went back to the Harbour Grace parish. The Irish priests at that time were either secretly or openly in revolt against Bishop Carfagnini whose recent appointment to the Harbour Grace Diocese was opposed by all of them. The revolt worked detrimentally to the various parishes. The students at St. Bonaventure's College from the Harbour Grace Diocese were subjected to petty discrimination as a consequence of the bitter racial schism. The Irish priests, undoubtedly fulfilled their duties relating to the spiritual welfare of the people; but they were out of tune with the hardships, the severity and the alienness of Newfoundland conditions. They had come from a country whose social customs were stereotyped by law and tradition. Change or progress was not thought of. They had grown up amongst a people accustomed to implicit obedience for centuries. The Irish people had to bow to command as the sapling bows to the wind. But men who had braved the storms of the sea, had fought with icefloes, with shipwreck and had won out, would not take overbearing commands unquestioningly. The imigrant priest had to deal with a different mental attitude from that which he had left at home. The result was that with isolated exceptions, the Irish priests and their flocks never attained to that level of trust and mutual confidence which prevails to-day amongst their successors. The social side of the Church was not a factor in their ministrations. Dogma and morality was their sphere, and they kept rigidly within it.

But man's life is not wholly circumscribed by these entities. Hence a new era dawned when the native priests came upon the scene. This awakening in King's Cove started with the advent of Father Veitch. He was sent by Bishop Carfagnini to attend Father Scanlan on his death bed at Bonavista. After the latter's death he came to King's Cove-in February 1872. Young, and of strong stocky physique, neither wind nor weather prevented him from visiting the remotest parts of his parish. The King's Cove parish at that time extended from Gambo in Bonavista Bay to Heart's Ease in Trinity Bay. Clad in his fur coat and cap, he ploughed through Bankss of snow and cowpaths and primitive trails of the early settlers. He was a fine-looking man and took a pride in his appearance. His photographs soon took a prominent place on the parlor tables of his parishioners. Occasionally, when a housewife was acknowledging the receipt of his photograph, he inquired whether she considered him "a fine-looking man." No man better understood the psychology of dress. He dressed spotlessly and even ostentatiously. In summer he wore a Leghorn hat, and walking cane, a loose-flowing caped soutane and heavy gold-rimmed glasses. His well-groomed, dignified and energetic deportment inspired confidence and loyalty where Father Scanlan's boisterous growls prompted fear.

He had not been long in King's Cove before the people felt new life instilled into church affairs. He preached frequently, and although no orator, what he lacked in that respect was offset by a strong sonorous voice which impressed his congregation. Though his discourses were principally transcripts from well-known books of sermons, people began to speak of him as "a great preacher". On calm summer evenings, his voice could be heard at Stewart's- many hundred yards away when the chapel windows were lowered.

He introduced the "Benediction" service and organised the first choir. His first stay in the parish was only fifteen months, the latter portion of it being taken up with preparations for Bishop Carfagnini's first visitation. This occurred in May 1873. Preparations for the event had been made on a spectacular scale. For weeks, the populace had been busy building arches and decorating the chapel and school grounds. The bare paling chapel fence was decorated with fir and spruce boughs. Banners and mottoes hung from the arches. An immense arch was erected at the "Chute", looking through which, Bishop Carfagnini could get his first view of King's Cove. Father Veitch went to Trinity to meet His Lordship. After some days' delay, word came that the Bishop would arrive at King's Cove on a certain day. The populace walked out to meet him. A procession, headed by banners a picked platoon with sealing guns, and an orchestra of violins paraded through the village and headed out Stock Cove Road. It was expected that His Lordship would be met somewhere between King's Cove and Stock Cove; but there was some unforseen delay, and the procession kept moving on till a halt was called about two miles beyond the latter place. Patiently they waited for the Bishop's arrival. Soon Father Veitch was observed on the skyline corning at full gallop on horseback The Bishop was coming. It had been forty years since a Bishop was in King's Cove before. Many of the inhabitants had never seen a Bishop. An ordinary clergyman was something wonderful to the unsophisticated minds of these days; what must a Bishop be like? The rattle of ramrods was insistent above the murmur of excitement. The violinists, Pat Murphy, Rich Lawton, Mike Lawton and Jim Costello, hastened to see if their violins were in tune, or if their bows were rosined. And in the middle of it, the Bishop makes his appearance in a lumbering old carriage This was the signal for a salvo from the sealing guns followed by the "White Cockade" and "The Rakes of Mallow' from the orchestra There was a break in the music while all knelt on the grass to receive the Bishop's blessing. It was then that Rev. Michael Hanley who accompanied the Bishop and whom the people saw for the first time, asked the orchestra to play "The Tipperary Boys." This request was awkward and disconcerting; for the "Tipperary Boys" was not in their repertoire. It was unfortunate too that the orchestra could not furnish a tune that may be familiar to the youthful ears of the new priest in his own loved country. The following account of this episcopal visitation is taken from the Harbour Grace Standard.

"It is cheering to see the Catholics of this and neighbouring countries rallying around their pastor and by manifesting towards them the most unmistakable signs of obedience and devotion, promoting and cherishing the authority of the church. It is with a view of showing how firm in the faith and how devoted to their pastors are the Catholics of the Parish of King's Cove and of thus bestowing upon them their well-merited meed of praise, and of edifying their fellow catholics in other parts of the Island hat I beg through the columns of your widely circulated journal to give, what I fear, must prove only a meagre and inadequate description of the truly grand and imposing reception which Hi, Lordship the Right Rev. H. Carfagnini, D.D., O.S.F., received from the people of this Parish on the occasion of his recent visit

As soon as night set in, the church, the parochial house, the school house, and every dwelling in the harbor shone resplendent with wax lights. The grounds around the church and every hill top were all aglow with bonfires which burned till a late hour o the night and which made King's Cove appear to persons viewing it from the sea as if enveloped in one blaze of light. Enthusiastic cheering continued in different parts of the harbor, especially in the vicinity of the parochial house until 11 o'clock when the extinction of lights in the church gave the signal for all to retire to their homes.

On Saturday morning, the Bishop set out for Open Hall for the purpose of administering Confirmation there, and his whole journey through the interesting villages of Broad Cove, Keels and Tickle Cove was one continued ovation. In each place as many as four or five triumphal arches had been erected, and all of them by their display of flags, style of architecture, and the propriety of mottoes which graced them spoke volumes for the skill, good taste, and piety of the people. In each harbor, the people came out in processional order to receive their Bishop. The houses were literally lined with flags, and the roads in many places for miles were planted with green boughs on each side. On approaching Open Hall the procession was swelled to thousands, the crowds of every class and creed were continually meeting and pouring into it from the neighbouring places. Having arrived at the chapel. His Lordship administered Confirmation and subsequently re. turned with his priests to King's Cove. His return constituted P repetition of the soul-stirring scenes of the morning to which were added the still more attractive ones of illuminated houses, bonfires and fireworks in each of the harbors through which he had to pass. His Lordship confirmed in King's Cove and Open Hall about five hundred children and adults. During His Lordship's stay, a deputation presented him with an address "

The address was signed by 70 of the leading men of King's Cove and other harbors of the Parish. His Lordship left by the S.S. Leopard for Trinity.

When Bishop Carfagnini left King's Cove after his brief visit, he took Father Veitch with him and left Father Hanley in charge of the parish. Father Hanley had the robust health of a com fortably-reared farmer's son. His strong jaw and thin firm lips indicated a large amount of self-will. He had a high-pitched voice which became a piping falsetto when he was angry. He had the aloofness and the domineering characteristics of the Irish priests of the olden days. He seemed to have always a grouch about something. Generally speaking, there were very few bright spots in the life of an outport priest in these days to urge him maintain an attitude of uninterrupted geniality. His vocation to the priesthood must surely be of the strongest character. His official station prevented him, to some degree, from joining in the many social recreations and festivities which help to relieve the monotony of outport life. Unless he has a hobby or a taste for study, his life differs little from the solitary confinements of convicts. His existence becomes doubly depressing if from any reason, the relations between himself and his parishioners lack a spirit of cordiality and mutual confidence.

Father Hanley early came in conflict with the Murphy family over some insignificant overcharge in his grocery bill. The firm (Michael Murphy & Sons) was assured that the disputed articles had been delivered and refused to withdraw them from the bill. In retaliation, Father Hanley tore up from the Murphy family cemetery plot and threw over the fence some saplings which Mrs. Murphy (Big Allie) had planted a few month previously.

He preached only occasionally; but very frequently amused his congregation by his sarcastic denunciation of some parochia1 shortcoming. His amusing description of the weeping qualities of the candles supplied on Candlemas Day to the Church, of the interference of one of his parishioners in a Poor Relief case, and of a fight at the foot of "Mount Misery" as he called the Flagstaff Hill, contained tid-bits of humorous sarcasm that are still quoted at fireside reminiscences.

After two years of missionary work at King's Cove he was transferred to Northern Bay. Later he was transferred to Harbor Main. Having lost all his savings in the failure of the Commercial Banks, he decided to return to Ireland where he died.

Father Hanley was a well-knit, healthy-looking man, above medium height, of florid complexion, thin firm lips and an expression of wounded feelings. He possessed a high-pitched shrill voice that carried with it an unvarying note of petulance and reproof His movements were quick and active indicating nervous temperament. He was a good horseman and this accomplishment served him well in the performance of his missionary duties, as few carriage roads existed at that time in the neighbourhood of King's Cove.

The two winters Father Hanley spent in King's Cove were to a man of his disposition extremely lonely and monotonous. One of his altar boys in after years, recalling the old days wrote of him:

"I have often thought of the lonely life of the outport priest. I remember one Sunday evening, in the winter of 1875. I and one of my chums from "Longshore" tackled up two dogs to go "for a ride" in over Rum Bottle Hill. It was a dismal cloudy afternoon and thick soft snow was pitching about under the lash of a brisk southeast wind. When we reached the corner of the chapel fence we heard a tapping at a window. It was Father Hanley. I went in to see what he wanted. He did not seem to notice my entrance, but kept looking out the window with his arms resting on the middle sash. Rather awkwardly I remained standing near the door waiting for him to turn around and say something. At length he turned from the window and said:

"I suppose you want to go sliding; very well, go on."

There was an ocean of loneliness, sadness and despair in his voice. The tragedy of it did not strike my youthful mind then; but often since I have thought how lonely he must have felt-in an alien land 2000 miles away from his homeland, companionless, practically friendless and his vision of the green uplands of his native Tipperary blotted out by the bleak, black storm-tossed waters of King's Cove harbor."

Father Hanley's naive comments on local affairs and everyday incidents were always a source of amusement to his parishioners. On one occasion, a schooner was beating in the harbor against a brisk west wind. He watched the schooner tacking back and forth for some time. Then he said to a bystander in hi piping voice:

My friend, why doesn't she come straight in without going back and forth like that?"

On another occasion, during the blueberry season one of his parishioners had become ill after eating too much whort pie Father Hanley was called to her. When he saw her tongue purple with the blueberry juice he became thoroughly alarmed, he hurried out and called the teacher who lived near:

"Oh my friend, come up, come up; she's in a terrible state: she's got the black plague."

Here is another incident which illustrates the infantine touchiness of his character:

One Sunday in February at Mass at Open Hall, he announced he would be up on the following Thursday to hear the "confessions" of the men going to the ice.

"I'll hear nobody else except the men going to the ice," he insisted. "Now d'ye hear that?"

On Thursday, the sealers trooped in. A poor old woman who had not been to Mass the previous Sunday and who knew nothing of what Father Hanley had said, thought it a good opportunity to go to "confession" when she looked out through her window and raw the crowd around the chapel door.

Going into the chapel, she edged her way to the rails where Father Hanley sat with his right elbow leaning on the rails, his hand shading his closed eyes.

    "Bless me O Father" came the squeaky woman's voice"

Father Hanley's hand came from his eyes with a jerk. What was this? With a stern frown he looked at the penitent a few moments and then in his high falsetto voice said:

    "Well, ma'am, and what steamer are you goin' out in?"

Father Hanley was the last of the Irish priests. He was succeeded by Rev. William Veitch, who arrived in Decernber 1875-a few weeks after Father Hanley's departure. King's Cove was not new to him; for he had spent fifteen strenuous months in the parish two years previously. But he feit now that it was to be the scene of his labours for perhaps the rest of his life. In a short time he transforrned the parish. The old era had vanished; a new regime had come to take its place and vivify the dead hones of parochial lethargy. The new policy was not merely one of labourously calculated adaptation to the needs of the community; the spirit of it was inherent in the people, and the native priests were its exponents. Instead of the old aloofness, Father Veitch eagerly sought the help of those most interested in his projects. Conspicuous amongst these were James Long of Open Hall; John Cheevers, Plate Cove; Capt. Thomas Doyle, John Devine, R. Lawton and Pat Murphy. There were others who fell in line with Father Veitch's aims, but were content to take a secondary place. These formed an informal committee with whom he kept in frequent consultation.

He first turned his attention to providing new schools and teachers. He built schools in every little settlement where there was a sufficient grant to open a school for even a part of the year. He took the best pupils from the school at King's Cove and sent them as teachers tn the outlymg settlements. Some of them were very young-not over sixteen years of age. Their stock of knowledge was necessarily limited. Of the technical methods of imparting knowledge they were entirely ignorant; but they had an elementary knowledge of arithmetic, reading and writing, and it was possible for them to impart some at least of that knowledge to others. Amongst those sent out as young educational missionaries were M. A. Devine, T. Haurahan, C. Levesconte, B. McGrath, John Carroll, P. K. Devine and J. T. Lawton. Later, King's Cove school under the management of the younger Tom Hanrahan, was made a training school for prospective teachers. During the several years of Father Veitch's administration, he sent about twenty young men to St. Bonaventure's College to be educated as teachers.

After establishing a number of schools, he began to plan for the erection of churches. His first big world in that direction was the new church at King's Cove, commenced in 1884. The old one built in 1825 had now become too small for the increased congregation. The new church was built chiefly by free labor of the parishioners between Knight's Cove and Keels inclusive. They travelled every day for a week to King's Cove in relays of ten whose names were called from the altar each Sunday. The people were cheerfully responsive to these calls and in two years the church was finished. New churches were also built at Open Hall and St. Brendan's.

Not only did he plan for the education of the children, he established a lending library to enable adults to find recreation and instruction during the long winter months. This library was established at the home of Mrs. George Connolly and has been mentioned elsewhere.

Father Veitch's beacon was progress and development. The first Sunday evening his new choir conducted by Mrs. Bernard Murphy and aided by the best violinists of the village, accompanied his first "Benediction" service, the church services took on a solemnity and impressiveness hitherto undreamt of by the congregation. And later when Miss Mary Larkin-a graduate of Riverhead Convent, St. John's-struck chords on the first church organ ever heard in King's Cove, its appeal to the people showed itself by the crowds which thronged the chapel.

The social condition of his parish early engaged his attention. He and Rev. William Kirby co-operated for the extension and improvement of the roads. The Trinity and Plate Cove roads were improved so that a carriage could be used on them. Fish-flakes which covered the principal roads were taken down. He was instrumental in having the telegraph line extended from Trinity, and spent a considerable sum in telegraphic messages merely for the sake of patronage.

Besides looking after the spiritual welfare of his flock, he worked for their social advancement. He interested himself in getting berths for sealers, in disposing of the vegetable produce of his parish, and gave contracts for lumber. In his position as relieving officer he had many calls upon his generosity and he never failed to make some provision for the destitute.

Shortly after coming to King's Cove the second time he began the erection of a new parochial house. He also built a parochial house at Open Hall. This was never occupied as it was burnt down shortly after its erection. He built a new school at Keels, and had the school at San Croix hauled to Broad Cove.

It was during Father Veitch's pastorate that Bonavista and Catalina were made a separate parish. He retained St. Brendan's, Gambo and Trinity Bay.

Father Veitch had several curates under him from time to time during his pastorate; they were Fathers Tarahan, Roe, Badcock, Ryan, Murphy and Father John Lynch. After Father Veitch left King's Cove, Trinity and St. Brendan's were made separate parishes. In 1891 he was transferred to Conception Harbour.

Father Veitch was respected and loved by all sections in King's Cove. There was deep regret amongst his parisioners when he was transferred to Conception Harbour. Some years before his death he was created a Monsignor. All those who had followed his career as a pioneer, a church and school builder, an educational enthusiast, an energetic social worker, thought that when Bishop Macdonald resigned through ill-health, Monsignor Veitch's claims to fill the vacancy deserved undisputed recognition. But it appears that in church matters, the race is not always to the swift.

He was succeeded by Rev. Tom Lynch. Father Lynch was a native of Harbour Grace. He was a reserved undemonstrative man and lacked the suavity and buoyancy of manner of his predecessor. His cool appraising eyes repelled any show of familiatrity and his facial immobility showed a secretiveness which was hostile to a general friendliness. Though as a matter of expediency he ostensibly sought advice, it was really for the endorsation of his own views. Though of Irish descent, he had the qualities of the Scot. Thrifty in his habits, he amassed a considerable Banks account during his fourteen years stay in King's Cove. He suffered from chronic indigestion, and this tinged his views with a narrowness and a pessimism, He believed however in efficiency and faithful performance of duty. He kept church and school buildings in good repair and initiated efficient methods of teaching in his schools. He came to be known as "a good financier" because he wanted to be assured that before he undertook any parochial building, the obligations incurred thereby could be liquidated. To him the Ministry was not solely the Lord's vineyard wherein those who laboured were "to take no thought of the morrow" and simply obey the divine behest to teach all nations: the modern church in his view was a commercialised institution wherein the laborer was worthy of his hire, and if one made no provision for himself, no one else would do it for him. No one could criticise him for this line of conduct for his superior-Bishop Macdonald-had advocated and practised this philosophy. He was very sensitive to criticism, and deeply resented some of Inspector Wickham's reports of his schools. These instances were isolated, however, and in justice to him it must be said that the condition of his schools both as to efficiency and the excellent state of repair in which they were kept, was second to none in the diocese. In educational matters he disliked having the badge of inferiority attached to his schools and in the competitive game which the higher education craze developed, he worked strenuously for prominent places for his schools. He built a new school at King's Cove in 1896, with separate departments for junior and senior classes. This building was burnt to the ground in 1913. Its destruction was a considerable loss to the parish,; for it had been but a short time previously repaired and the insurance on the building was only enough to defray the cost of repairs. It was a two storey building; the upper part being used for concerts and dances.

Father Lynch built a new school at Tickle Cove, a chapel school at Sweet Bay and a new church at Summerville. He also had a new school at Plate Cove partly erected when he took sick. It was during Father Lynch's pastorate that the present boundaries of the parish were defined. It extends from Blackhead Bay to Plate Cove West, both included.


Father Lynch died at the General Hospital, St. John's. in November 1905. He was succeeded by Rev. John Scully, a native of Harbour Grace. After an elementary course in the Harbour Grace Academy, Father Scully went 'o the Propaganda College at Rome in the fall of 1891 where he studied for 9 years. He was ordained in 1900, and came to King's Cove in October 1905. Father Scully is quiet, friendly in manner and this friendliness won for him the esteem of his parishioners and enabled him to gain their co operation in the erection of the many new school and church buildings which adorn the parish. With the subdivision of the parish, its income has been considerably reduced. It is therefore much to his credit that under these circumstances he was able to build new schools at Princeton, Summerville, Knight's Cove, Broad Cove and to enlarge Plate Cove West and Keels schools. He finished Plate Cove school, built the new church at Open Hall and erected the new high school and hall at King's Cove to replace that destroyed in 1913.

In a few months under Father Scully's direction a larger and more artistic building arose from the ashes of the old structure.

For twenty-two years he did all the work of the parish singlehanded. In the fall of 1925 Bishop March sent him an assistant- Rev. Leslie G. Fitzgerald-a clever, able and energetic young priest. Before coming to King's Cove Father Fitzgerald had done missionary work at Kingston in the Bay de Verde district He is the son of P. J. Fitzgerald Fishery Inspector of Harbour Grace and grandson of Captain Nicholas Fitzgerald. Later, Father Fitzgerald was made parish priest of St. Brendan's.

Rev. William C. Murphy became Parish Priest of King's Cove in 1926 on the transfer of Rev. John Scully to Conception. Shortly after his assumption of his parish duties, the famous Industrial depression hit the village, and all attempts at church or school building was retarded. However, one new school was built at Western Plate Cove and a $500 Fund was started to build a school at Knight's Cove as soon as the financial outlook improved.

Father Murphy's stay in King's Cove was marked by certain outstanding activities. One of these was his interest in grading up his schools. Up to his advent to King's Cove, none of his schools had sent in pupils for Grade XI. A beginning was made with King's Cove school. and soon the schools at Open Hall, Plate Cove, Keels and Knight's Cove followed suit by sending in candidates for Grade XI.

A notable piece of work was done by Father Murphy in introducing a talented music teacher in the person of Miss Gertrude Coady, A.T.C.L.,-now Mrs. Augustine Murphy, Catalina-to the Ring's Cove public. Miss Coady was not only church organist, but had private pupils in singing and piano. The church choir put off several concerts and operettas every year. The choir was a large one and the ages of its members ranged from 8 to 50 years. The concerts drew crowds of music lovers from the surrounding settlements.

Father Murphy took a keen interest in athletics. He organised a hockey team with the aid of the Anglican and Catholic teachers. The team played a series of games with the Bonavista team and they proved a very enjoyable and healthful recreation for the young men of the town.

Father Murphy was transferred in October 1940 to Holyrood and was succeeded by the present P.P.-Rev. Fr. Williams.


Page transcribed by: Bill Crant June, 2000
Page revised: Sept 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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