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The Markland Experiment: The Victoria Connection
By Frank E. Clarke
In September of 1963 I was hired to teach at Markland No. 1. I had just finished a summer school teaching program and was given my first job. As was common those days I got a boarding house with and William and Anne Antle and settled in. Shortly after arriving there I began to hear stories that linked Victoria to Markland. I did not give it much thought at the time as I was busy teaching grades kindergarten to 8 in a single classroom. Eventually I moved to live with my Aunt Mabel and Uncle George who had been one of the first settlers at Markland and they told me a brief history of the place. My interest was aroused and over the years I have tried to find out as much as I could about how the place was settled and what people from Victoria moved there.
In 1934, with the Labrador fishery in its death throes, 28 families from Victoria took part in a land settlement scheme and moved to Markland. This community was founded as an experimental land settlement agricultural community in 1934. The "Markland Experiment" began in the spring of that year when a group of private citizens in St. John's approached the Commission of Government, offering to act as trustees for ten families of ex-servicemen who wished to farm as an alternative to collecting welfare. Beginning in 1934 Commissioners Thomas Lodge and John Hope Simpson began to promote an expansion of Markland as an experiment in "social regeneration." A manager was appointed for the settlement, Rudolph Cochius, and homes were provided for 120 families in six numbered "communities," as well as two sawmills, a store, two interdenominational "folk," schools (the writer taught at Markland #1 School in 1963-64) a furniture-making shop and a cottage hospital. Settlers were recruited from the areas hardest hit by the Depression-chiefly St. John's and Conception Bay (particularly Victoria). By the 1935 Census there were 635 residents.
An examination of census data and government documents reveals the following information with regards to those directly involved in the experiment. Those people who moved from Victoria to Markland are marked with an asterisk. In most cases they took their entire family with them and settled on land granted by the government.
Anderson, Geoffrey, Agriculturist Ash, Charles, Superintendent at Vinland Ash, Miss Sadie, Nurse Badcock, A. C., Local Manager (Markland Burry, Ross, Assistant to local Manager at Haricot Carnell, Roy, Supervisor of Community No. 3 Chafe, George, Superintendent of Community No. 1 Clouston, Weldon, Agriculturist Cochius, Miss Clara, Teacher in charge Cochius, R H K, General Manager Cullen, Stan, Assistant to Agriculturist Dawson, John, Superintendent of Community No. 2 Drover, Jack, Surveyor Fearn, Basil, Local Manager (Haricot) Gent, William, Assistant to Construction Superintendent Gill, Herbert, Investigation Officer Gillingham, Kitchener, Superintendent of Community No. 6 Martin, Miss Pauline, Teacher Mews, Doris M., Steno-secretary Molley, Miss Kitty, Teacher Rowe, Ernest, Assistant to Investigating Officer Stentaford, Alec, Superintendent of Communities No. 4 and 5 Thistle, Miss Beatrice, Teacher Thistle, Roy, Architecture and Construction Wylie, Victor, Road Construction People Who Took Part in the Experiment Adams, Cecil, Accountant (Haricot) Antle, Hedley, Farmer* Antle, John, Farmer* Antle, Joseph, Farmer* Baldwin, Bert, Farmer* Baldwin, Joseph, Farmer* Baldwin, Nicholas, Farmer* Baldwin, Walter, Farmer* Bright, Edward, Farmer* Burke, John, Farmer* Butler, Charles, Store Assistant Cardwell, Ernest, Store Assistant Chambers, Malcolm, Truckman Clarke, Charles, Farmer* Clarke, Earl, Farmer* Clarke, George, Farmer** Clarke, Isaac, Farmer* Clarke, Leonard, Farmer* Clarke, Leonard, Farmer* (Not the same as above) Clarke, Oscar, Farmer* Clarke, William, Assistant Accountant* Cole, Elias Jr., Farmer* Cole, Elias, Sr., Farmer* Cole, James, Farmer* Cole, John, Farmer* Cole, Murdock, Farmer* Cole, Samuel, Farmer* Comby, Ambrose, Farmer Cox, Simon, Farmer Crowley, William, Farmer Davis, James, Store Assistant Dean, Samuel, Farmer* Dean, Walter, Farmer* Deering, Arthur, Farmer* Devereaux, Vincent, Farmer Devoe, Raymond, Farmer Didham, William, Cook Dodd, George, Farmer Erley, J, Farmer Foley, Michael, Farmer Frampton, W.J., Store Assistant* Frampton, William, Farmer* Gillingham, Isaac, Farmer Gorman, J., Farmer Griffin, John, Truckman Hall, Thomas, Farmer Hannaford, James, Expressman Hogan, John, Farmer Hunt, Paul, Farmer Hurley, William, Farmer Hussey, Stan, Farmer Hutchings, George, Farmer Hutchings, John, Farmer Hutchings, Stanley, Farmer Hynes, John, Farmer Ivey, James, Farmer Janes, Alexander, Farmer Johnson, James, Farmer Jones, Roy, Farmer Kelloway, Mark, Farmer Kennedy, Richard, Expressman King, William, Farmer* Lidstone, William, Farmer Luffman, George, Farmer Luffman, Harold, Farmer Luffman, Ronald, Farmer Luffman, Thomas, Farmer Luffman, William, Farmer McCarthy, Edward, Farmer McCarthy, James, Farmer McGory, David, Farmer McGrath, P., Farmer Madden, Luke, Farmer Moore, Chesley, Farmer Moore, Lloyd, Farmer Moore, Wilson, Farmer Morecombe, George, Farmer Mulrooney, George, Farmer Murphy, A., Farmer Noseworthy, Thomas, Farmer O'Reilly, William, Farmer Parsons, Bernard, Farmer* Parsons, Henry, Farmer* Parsons, William, Farmer* Penney, Harold, Farmer* Penney, J. Penney* Penney, John, Farmer* Pomeroy, William, Farmer Power, J., Farmer Purcell, Richard, Farmer Pynn, C. H., Farmer Robinson, Ronald, Farmer Ryan, Michael, Farmer Sellars, William, Farmer Sheppard, Max, Farmer Slade, Ezekiel, Farmer Smith, Arthur, Farmer Snooks, Joseph, Farmer* Snow, Charles, Farmer Snow, Edward, Farmer Snow, William, Farmer Spencer, Frederick, Accountant Stevenson, Frederick, Farmer* Stevenson, William, Farmer* Sweetland, L, Farmer Thorne, William, Store Assistant Vaters, Robert, Farmer* Warren, Frederick, Farmer Warren, Patrick, Farmer Warren, Thomas, Farmer Warren, William, Farmer White, Harold, Farmer* Woolridge, Richard, Farmer Yetman, Alex, Farmer Yetman, Alexander, Farmer Yetman, Llewelyn, FarmerThe great expectations that were held for the experiment did not materialize. It became clear that this form of land settlement could not cure Newfoundland's social and economic ills. Within three years many of the residents from Victoria, who had gone to Markland, had returned. Today few of the family names still found in Markland have roots in Victoria. Among those remaining are Antle, Parsons, and Baldwin.
** Uncle George and aunt Mabel stayed on. After the World War II ended he went to work at the Argentia. He continued to operate a small family garden for the remainder of his life. Together they had nine children:
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Page revised: Oct. 2002 (Terry Piercey)
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