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History of King's Cove





The settlers at King's Cove, from the earliest times, set a high value on education. Long before there were any Government grants towards that object, schools had been built. Mr. Thomas Walsh's prominent planter-taught night-school. Thomas Long taught a school at Knight's Cove-three miles from King's Cove. He walked back and forth every day winter and summer from King's Cove to his school for the munificent sum of twenty pounds or $80 a year. Mr. Long supplemented his small salary by keeping a small shop and retailed such necessary articles as needles, thimbles, hair pomades and so on. Mr. William Hartery-one time McBraire's book-keeper-also taught school after the closure of McBraire's firm. Another employee of the McBraire firm-Mr. James Stewart-taught school in the forties.

There are many who say that the scholastic syllabus of these early days was more practical than the elaborate programme of today. The syllabus included navigation, mensuration, the three "Rs", English grammar. The younger pupils were drilled in reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling.

The Church Colonial Society early established a school at King's Cove under the management of Mr. John Coffin.

Owen Hamilton of Carbonear taught the Roman Catholic school in the fifties. He was a very strict disciplinarian. One of his forms of punishment was to put a culprit on a fellow pupil'5 back and compel the latter to carry his load up a steep hill which lay behind the old school house, Hamilton following behind with a stout flat stick with which he flattened out the wrinkles in the coat and pants of the wriggling offender. Hamilton was famous as a penman and his efficiency in this respect was a frequent topic for conversation long after he left King's Cove.

Will Hartry, son of the Mr. William Hartry who was bookkeeper with McBraire & Co. and later with Munn & Carroll, began to teach in King's Cove about the year 1865. He was a fine looking fellow, with regular features, fine expressive eyes, and clear, spotless complexion. He had spent some years at St. Bonaventure's College when it was noted for development of character rather than proficiency in uncorrelated ologies. The common belief at that time was that the training which St. Bonaventure's gave, had a noteworthy effect on its students, superior to the influence of present-day collegiate training. Whether in the universality of present-day education the present-day results are comparatively less spectacular, it is difficult to say. The limited field for a higher education in the sixties was perhaps a bare broad background against which a little education showed up conspicuously. However, popular opinion pointed to certain individuals who had received a collegiate training, and who had as an inferred result attained high places in the State.

Will Hartry was amongst the young men who had entered the Temple of learning, around which popular imagination had from the beginnings of civilization thrown a glamour and a halo little below that of a priestly character. He was a good talker, an omnivorous reader, and could write a well-worded letter to His Excellency the Governor.

Because, generally, only the bare bald incidents of every-day life have been recorded for us, we imagine that the present alone is the age of romance. But romance was as busy in King's Cove in the sixties as to-day. While Hartry was teaching in King's Cove, Miss Johanna Gould was a teacher at Bonavista. She was a sister of Mr. Bernard Murphy-the tragic incidents of whose life we have elsewhere recounted. We have no means of knowing what her attitude towards Will Hartry was; but it was clearly apparent that he contemplated marriage with her: for he made frequent visits to Bonavista to see her, and started to build a house on Broad Cove Road. This house is still standing and was inhabited for years by Captain Thomas Doyle before he went to live at St. John's.

A great deal of the lumber for this house was brought on the ground by Hartry's pupils. In the midst of the school session. Hartry would order the biggest boys down to the wharf to bring planks to the site of his new house. A considerable quantity of this lumber was two inch pine For a boy of eight or nine this was a formidable load to carry from Murphy's wharf to the building site, half a mile on Broad Cove road. The boys literally groaned under their burdens like the Jews of old.

The tasks had become unbearable and so it was decided to dodge them. One day Hartry, garbing himself in a long brightly coloured plaid scarf which he wore over his left shoulder and fastened under his right arm. after ordering his pupils to, the wharf. headed the procession himself with a long plank. There were seven in the procession. Next to Hartry was Bill Holloway who was a recognised leader. The concerted signal was that when the procession should reach the turn in the road leading to where Dr. LeVesconte's house now stands, all hands were to quietly lodge their boards against the fence and run. This was accomplished without a hitch and Hartry was left a solitary figure on the road. But the next morning the job had to be finished with Hartry bringing up the rear.

It is now certain that Miss Gould had decided on another course of life for she afterwards entered Carbonear Convent and became a nun. Whether her decision unhinged Hartry's mind it is difficult to say; but from the moment she decided to devote herself to a religious life, there came a remarkable change over him. He lost all interest in school work and in house-building and became moody and subject to fits of violence. Several of these violent fits resulted in his ultimate transfer to the Mental Asylum where he died a few years later. One of his former pupils wrote later of him:

"Two points in his career which will always be painfully vivid to me were to see him one day walking through the streets of King's Cove bareheaded, coatless, and bootless, handcuffed behind his back and imploring the passers-by to take the handcuffs off. This was after one of his destructive fits at home. The other occasion was when in company with the late M. A. Devine I saw him lying dead at the Mental Asylum. It was tragic to see a young man of so much promise cut off in the spring-tide of manhood. To this day, after fifty years I can recall the bruises which disfigured his face apparently self-inflicted."

Hartry lived and cooked for himself for some years in a room adjoining the schoolroom-afterwards used by the Hanrahan family as a kitchen. Potatoes, turnips, cabbage and other vegetables lay scattered over the floor. One of the favourite occupations of the more adventurous pupils was to dart into this room while Hartry was vacantly gazing through the window, rush back to their seats with a head of cabbage or a turnip and when an opportunity offered, fling them across the room at the head of some unsuspecting pupil.

It was dangerous however to carry this sort of recreation too far. When aroused, Hartry had a violent temper. One warm day in the early spring, when the air had become suffocating, and the bigger boys who came to school in the winter months more for pass-time than for learning, had become bored by hours of inactivity, one of them tried to amuse himself by making goemetrical figures with pieces of slate frames. Hartry turned suddenly from one of his gazing abstractions through the window.

"What is that?" he asked as soon as he saw the figure.

The reply that came back was what would hardly be expected from a pupil to his teacher.

"That's Johanna Gould" said the bored scholar.

For a moment the air was tense with restrained excitement. The audacity of the reply was recognised by the smallest pupil. For a brief moment, the buzzing of the flies could be heard on the windows. Then came the onslaught. The offender happened to be sitting in the middle of a long, heavily built desk which seated ten or twelve pupils. In Hartry's enraged effort to reach his objective, the other pupils jumped from their seats in terror, desks were overturned, there was a wild panic, a headlong rush which continued till the schoolroom was empty, and the culprit had escaped.

As a teacher he may be considered a failure as we understand teaching to-day. His mind was not on his work. For hours at a time he paced up and down the schoolroom, or looked through the windows, his arms resting on the window sill, his face reacting to the varied and impetuous rush of his thoughts. Heedless of the undisguised amusement of his pupils and absorbed in his own meditation, he smiled blandly at some pleasing thought or frowned furiously at some irritating reminiscence. One of the occupations adopted by the pupils to relieve the monotony of enforced idleness was chewing bits of paper into soft pellets and flinging them to the ceiling. The person who could stick on the greatest number of pellets in a given time acquired a temporary distinction. In the course of time the ceiling resembled a map of the heavens. Some years afterwards when on the occasion of Bishop Carfagnini's visit to King's Cove the school room had to be renovated, this scraping off the constellations was no easy task.

Ultimately it became necessary to remove Hartry from the school and send him to the Insane Asylum.


Hartry's successor was Cuddihy from Torbay. He was a graduate of St. Bonaventure's, energetic and attentive, and his methods were a remarkable advance on those of his predecessors. Under his charge, the school became noted for its efficiency. He was the first to introduce geometry as a school subject, though Hartry had given private tuition in mensuration and land-surveying. Cuddihy was the first teacher in King's Cove to adopt collective teaching by means of the blackboard. His first pupils in geometry were the late M. A. Devine, who became Editor of the St. John's Trade Review; John McGrath, afterwards a prominent business man; Will Walsh, brother of Mrs. (Dr.) LeVesconte, and of Mrs. John White of Catalina, and J. T. Lawton. Two other innovations of his were pocket dictionaries and essay writing. Every advanced pupil was required to have a pocket dictionary and a special exercise book for English composition. His untimely end was a distinct loss to King's Cove. In the Fall of 1872, the Martin Brothers in whose house Cuddihy boarded, were late coming home from the Labrador, and much anxiety was felt regarding their safety. Long and frequent watches were kept up at Western Point for their return, and it is said that during these nightly watches he caught a cold from which he never recovered. Hw was buried at King's Cove; but in the following summer his father came from Torbay, had the body exhumed and taken home.


Shortly after Cuddihy's death, Capt. Thomas Hanrahan- father of the late Tom Hanrahan, School Inspector for the Harbour Grace Diocese arrived at King's Cove. He had been a rover on the seas for many years and getting tired of that occupation, steered his course for King's Cove and landed there at an opportune moment. Rev. W. Veitch was curate then and after some little delay, Hanrahan was given charge of the school. Mrs. Hanrahan had been teaching at Ragged Harbor, Catalina, while her husband was away to sea; but as soon as he obtained a position at King's Cove, she gave up her school and joined him with her family. Mr. Hanrahan taught from this time till the summer of 1879 when his son, Tom, took charge.

The nautical training of the elder Hanrahan hardly fitted him for an instructor of youth. His methods were stern and unsympathetic. He had been accustomed to dealing with men, rough and turbulent some of them, and he was unable to adapt himself to the weaknesses, irresponsibilities, and immaturities of children. Whenever he thought that the occasion demanded the use of the rod, it became a veritable instrument of torture. He was troubled with indigestion too, and this made him irritable and inattentive to his duties Present-day organisation was absent from his methods. Long hours were wasted daily in desk work. So slight was the supervision that the late M. A. Devine wrote in his desk unknown to his teacher many long chapters of a novel in which the boys and girls and grown-ups of King's Cove were vividly and dramatically portrayed.

Hanrahan was nowever, a competent teacher of navigation and several of his pupils took up the study of that subject. Among them was Captain Thomas Doyle who spent one winter at navigation studies under him.

Rev. Father Veitch, who took an active interest in education was a constant visitor to the school. He encouraged the boys in English composition and gave out subjects for essays. On one occasion his subject was "Tides." A certain member of the class came across a copy of "Sullivan's Geography" in which there was a chapter on "tides." As the book was tattered and torn, and seemed to be an heirloom from some remote Irish ancestor, the essayist thought it a remarkable find and hoped to be recognised as the champion essay writer. So he copied almost word for word from the "Sullivan's Geography." He had not read very far before Father Veitch with a stern inflection of voice interrupted:

"You copied that from 'Sullivan's Geography'."

The pupil stopped as if a large piece of shrapnel had struck him in the stomach. In a semi-lucid interval he managed to mutter "no sir" in weak denial. But he thought he would become petrified under the steady stare which Father Veitch turned upon him. When the essayist began to turn pale and the perspiration began to ooze out through him, the cleric withdrew his frown. The essay remained unread.

The death of Mrs. Hanrahan in the spring of 1879 evidently had an unsettled effect upon Capt. Hanrahan's work; for complaints began to come to Father Veitch regarding his school work, and the latter decided to replace him by his son.


Tom Hanrahan Junior introduced new life into the old school. He has spent a number of years at St. Bonaventure's college and had made a name for himself as a prize winner in many subjects. Though the science of pedagogy formed no part of the college curriculum at that time, the graduates of these days were imbued with a love of disseminating their knowledge, and their enthusiasm could not fail to originate better methods of instruction.

Rev. Father Veitch had an efficient and zealous co-worker in young Hanrahan. The latter had just turned his eighteenth year. The school soon rose to the position of a training academy for the parish teachers. From the ends of the parish the teachers were gathered in for instruction under Hanrahan's tuition, where they acquired not only an enlarged knowledge of the school subjects but the best methods then known of imparting that knowledge to others. His connection as a teacher with King's Cove ended when in recognition of his ability, Bishop McDonald made him assistant to Mr. J. J. Wickham when the Harbour Grace Academy was opened in 1881.


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

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