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Excerpts from the book Mount Moriah and the Bay of Islands: Memories of John Allan Critch

© Linda Elkins-Schmitt 1996




The following excerpts are taken from the book written by J. Allan Critch (1928-1995), former Mayor of Mount Moriah. He was the grandson of John & Lydia (Cassell) Critch of Harbour Deep and Benjamin & Mary Lavinia (Murley) Hunt of the Bay of Islands. His parents were Frank and Lucy (Hunt) Critch.

The Early Days in Mount Moriah

In the early days it was known as Child’s Point officially, although I imagine the mountain itself was always Mt. Moriah. However, if you lived west of Bartlett’s Turn in the early days you were considered a resident of Mt. Moriah or more affectionately `The Mountain´. Actually, the community was divided into two parts. You had what was known as Ballentine Cove to the east which covered the area between Bartlett’s Point and the Perrett property, and to the west you had Child’s Point. Of course today the Ballentine Cove area belongs to the City of Corner Brook. In fact, the boundary of the City of Corner Brook divides the mountain. Another part of the community that was and still is very popular is Cook’s Brook. Located at the western part of the community, this brook was named by Capt. James Cook when he chartered the waters of the Bay of Islands.......

..... Another part of Mt Moriah that was quite popular in the early days would be Soper's Crossing. This was the part of Mt. Moriah where the railway passed through. This of course was named for the Soper family who lived in that area. Today the road running adjacent to the railway is named Soper's Drive. Soper's Crossing was an important link to Corner Brook in the early days of the operation of the paper mill as well.

In 1925 when the paper mill was opened in Corner Brook, cars were very scarce. Therefore, for transportation to and from the mill, the railway was used. As many of the people working in the mill lived outside Corner Brook, they used a rail car known to everyone as the `Coach´. Soper's Crossing was the starting point for this service. A siding or Wye as the older residents of Mt. Moriah knew it as was installed at Soper's Crossing. There, you boarded the Coach for you trip to Corner Brook. Of course not all passengers were mill workers. Many people took advantage of the Coach for shopping or visiting. It was the same as taking a bus today. However, as time went by and more cars were being purchased the Coach became less and less depended upon, so it was eventually discontinued.....

.... No history of the early days would be complete without mentioning the early names and landmarks of the community. Besides the obvious names as Child's Point, Soper's Crossing etc. you had other names as well. You may notice another mountain near Mt. Moriah. This was and still is known as Mt. Mary Ann. Then you had another brook as well as Cook’s Brook. Though not so big, it still was very popular. This is of course Welshman's Brook. This brook was named after one of the early settlers, as were two ponds in the community named Murley's and Porter's Ponds. The hills had their own names as well. Perret’s, Morrison’s, MacDonald’s and Welshman's hills were all named after early settlers. Perhaps Duggan’s Hill near Cooks Brook was also named for someone who lived or had property near there.

Now that we haven dispensed with the early names, lets have a look at some of the old landmarks. Probably the most popular landmark or landmarks (there were two of them) were the `Big Rocks´. They were situated one on each side of the road with just enough room for a road between. Actually, there wasn't enough room for a road of the present day dimensions, which is why they were removed. However, they were very popular to the residents of Mt. Moriah, particularly the children. I would venture to say that practically every kid in Mt. Moriah one time or another climbed one of these rocks to or from the older people they were indeed a very popular and familiar landmark. I remember a former resident telling me that the most important thing he missed when he returned were the `Big Rocks´. They had been removed while he was away...

..Now, lets take a walk just a short distance to what we called `Morrisons Slide´. This wasn't really much of a slide as slides go. Actually, it was only a small incline that left the road open to the bay. But, it you told someone you would meet them at the slide, they knew where it was. The slide was located at the bottom of Morrisons Hill near the property of Mr. Murdock Morrison.....

.... there are a couple of events in the history of Mt. Moriah worth mentioning. On September 24, 1918 an express train from the old Nfld. Railway was wrecked at Soper’s Crossing. This train left the tracks and plunged over the trestle that crosses Welshman's Brook near the present day property of Mr. Lawrence Ellworth. Unfortunately, one person was killed - Miss P. O'Neil of Holyrood, Nfld. - and 22 others injured. I can recall my mother, Lucy Critch, telling me about this accident. She, along with other children, were gathering firewood on a nearby hill when the derailment took place. They rushed to the scene and helped care for the injured. As far as I can recall that was the only fatality to occur on the railway in the Mt. Moriah area.

The other serious event took place on June 11, 1899. This of course was the fire that not only affected Mt. Moriah but the whole surrounding area. This fire covered a 7 mile area and before it was over 54 buildings had been destroyed. As far as can be learned, there were no fatalities. However, presumably most of Mt. Moriah’s residents were left homeless, as some of the 54 buildings would have to be from there. I recall my late great-aunt Hattie Murley (1887-1978) describing how they had to leave their homes and stay in their vessel out in the bay.

Early Settlers

.... Rev. U.Z. Rule arrived in Birchy Cove July 13, 1865 to become the first resident minister of any denomination in the Bay of Islands. He built the first church, which was the old St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Birchy Cove, later destroyed by fire Feb. 5, 1950.

In his book Reminiscences of my Life Rule mentions several families. Two of these were the Baggs and Parsons of Birchy Cove, who arrived two years earlier in 1863. Other families living here during Rev. Rules arrival were the Brakes of Meadows, Loders of Summerside, and the Darringans and Stricklands of John’s Beach.....

.... It is not known who were the first settlers in Mt. Moriah, at least by this writer. However, at this time let us reflect on some of the pioneers of Mt. Moriah who have been with us for quite a long time. Here are a few of them: Morrison, MacDonald, Welshman, Edmonds, Butt, Belows, Hussey, Porter and Murley.

The Morrisions and MacDonalds, who were related, were of Scottish decent and apparently came here from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Butt family arrived in Mt. Moriah sometime before 1890. The Bellows and Husseys arrived here in the early 1900’s as far as I can determine.....Mr. H.T. Porter (born 1876) came here with the building of the Railway across Newfoundland.....The last name on the list is Murley. The Murley (also earlier known as Marley) family, in my opinion, was one of the first families to settle in Mt. Moriah.. George Murley, born in 1817 in  England, was living in the Bay of Islands at least by the 1870s. Although I don't know when the Murley’s settled in Mt. Moriah, I do know that Mary Lavinia Marley was born in Child’s Point (Mt. Moriah) in 1872. She was the daughter of Levi and Mary Ann Marley, and was my grandmother. She had 7 brothers and sisters. The family later moved to Ballentyne Cove. However Lavinia married Benjamin Hunt from Summerside in 1900 and resided in Mt. Moriah until she died in 1935.

Her sister, Amanda, born in 1870, married Harry Baldwin in 1892, and she also resided in Mt. Moriah all her life. Her brother Henry, born 1876, married Jane Stone from the Labrador and they also resided in Mt. Moriah. ..... So yon can see the Murley name was very prominent in Mt. Moriah in the early days. In fact, at one time all land between the Perrett property to the west and Welshman’s Brook to the east was Murley property. Actually, the oldest house still standing in Mt. Moriah was built by Mr. Isaac Murley. This house and property was later purchased by Mr. Robert Horwood, who resided there with his family for many years...

...No list of early settlers would be complete without the mention of the Furlongs of Cook’s Brook. Although Cook’s Brook was not really considered a part of Mt. Moriah at that time, nevertheless it now is within the boundary of the Town of Mt. Moriah.....I remember the Furlong children walked to Petries to attend school which was some three miles away....

......Some of the names that were prominent in the early development of Mt. Moriah were as follows: Sopers, Hiscocks, Grahams, Frenchs, Baldwin and Davis. The Soper name is still very prominent in Mt. Moriah, as mentioned earlier. However, they as well as the Hiscocks - who were related - moved away some years ago....

The Grahams lived here for many years, although it is not known where they originated from. However, Mrs. Graham was formerly a MacDonald and very much a part of the early settlement of Mt. Moriah. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Angus MacDonald and the sister of John, David, Angus, Norman and Hattie MacDonald. The Grahams left here many years ago and settled in Central Newfoundland. The Graham property was bought by Mr. Hedley Horwood in the early 1930s....

.... Another family name that is no longer with us is French. Mr. and Mrs. Eldred French lived here with their family for many years. The French property was originally the property of the heirs of Mr. Samuel Murley. Although Mr. and Mrs. French remained in Mt. Moriah until they both passed away, their children moved away much earlier. This property was later purchased by Mr. Gordon George who in turn later sold it to Mr. Arthur Sweetapple. Mr. Sweetapple developed this property into what is now Sweetapple Drive.

Mr. Harry Baldwin, born 1863, moved here from the Middle Arm area of Bay of Islands and married Amanda Murley .... Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin had two children, both girls. Therefore, when Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin died the family name disappeared as far as Mt. Moriah was concerned. However, both the Baldwin girls married and have descendants living in Mt. Moriah. Dora Baldwin married John Butt and raised a family in Mt. Moriah. Some of Mr. But’s family are now living on the original property of Mr. Baldwin. The other daughter, Lena moved to Nova Scotia and married a Mr. Smith. They raised a family of four. At least two of the family remained in Nova Scotia. However, one daughter Dorothy moved back to Mt. Moriah and married Mr. Hedley Hunt. She remained in Mt. Moriah until her death....

....Although quite a lot of Davis property still exists in Mt. Moriah, the family no longer resides there. Actually, Mr. Arthur Davis had two homes in Mt. Moriah. His winter home was located where the present Curling Lions Club now stands. In the summer he lived on his property near Cooks Brook......This property was farmland. I can recall seeing some of his machinery, which included a tractor and a truck. This was quite a thrill in those days of the horse and cart era. The Davis family continued to live in Mt. Moriah until the 1940s when they moved to Corner Brook. Although both Mr. and Mrs. Davis haven both passed away, their family still resides there.


Mt. Moriah then as now didn't have many industries to speak of. Some people worked in the paper mill in Corner Brook. Others fished for a living. But, there was one man who did contribute quite a lot to the economy of Mt. Moriah. He was Mr. H.T. Porter. Mr. Porter came to Mt. Moriah with the beginning for the railway across Nfld. After working on the construction of the railway, he decided to remain in Mt. Moriah, where he raised a family and became a very successful business man. Most of the people in Mt. Moriah made their living directly or indirectly from Mr. Porter. The Porter property where today most of the descendants live, was a bee hive of activity during the 1930s and 1940s. Many people worked on the Porter farm doing everything from making the hay to working on the crops. One of Mr. Porter's sons, Blandford, married my mother's sister Racheal Hunt. Therefore, as a young boy I spent quite a lot of time on the Porter property, especially during the summer months when school was out. These are memories that time will not erase. I can remember the many trays of fresh milk in the pantry of my aunt's home. Also, watching the hay being cut by horse drawn mowers, and the crows being milked by hand. But although the farm was important to the economy , the biggest contributor was the fishery.

In the 1930s and 40s the biggest industry in the Bay of Islands apart from the Paper Mill in Corner Brook was the Herring Fishery. There were several herring processors in both the Humber and Middle Arms. One of these was Mr. H.T. Porter & Sons. His plant, or herring store as it was most commonly called, employed many people with the majority coming from Mt. Moriah. Then there were the many fishermen who supplied the store with herring.... In those days barrels were made of wood and each processor had their own Coopers. In the case of Porter's Herring Store, the barrels were made in the same building on the second floor. The Coopers were in great demand by their employers. They had no problem to get employment as herring were very plentiful in those days and the processors used an enormous number of barrels....

....Mr. H.T. Porter also operated a large store in Petries under the name of H.T. Porter &Sons for many years. This building was later known as Allen’s Foodland. However, there was another Porter's Store. This was in Mt. Moriah. This small store was operated for many years by Mr. Porter's daughter Margaret. At one time it was the only store in Mt. Moriah. Later on it was taken over by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Ellsworth, who operated it for a number of years. This store located at the corner of Main Street and Serpentine Road is much larger then the small corner store that was started first.....

...There was also an Ice Cream Parlor operated by Mr. Arthur Davis. This was located on the top of Duggans Hill, about a half mile from Cooks Brook. This would have been in the 1930s. Around this time period, Cooks Brook was a very busy spot. The new Paper Mill in Corner Brook was going in full swing and practically everybody flocked to Cooks Brook on the weekends....Mr. Leo Boland operated a small store there for quite some time. In fact he lived there with his family. There was also another store in Cooks Brook in the late 1930s operated by a Mr. Reid, who also resided there... Meanwhile, Mt. Moriah had other small stores in its history. In the late 1940s and early 1950s stores were operated by Mr. Frank Butt, Mr. Eric Butt and Mr. Hedley Horwood. These stores are no longer in existence.


....In the late 1930s Mr. Bert Hull came to Mt. Moriah to operate a farm near Murley's Pond. Not only was he a good farmer, but a very good football player as well. In no time at all, he had practically everyone in Mt. Moriah playing football. Furlong's Field or the football field as it was and still is affectionately called, was the scene of many an hour of enjoyment. This was only the beginning. The next step was to enter an all star team in the Curling League. Thus, the ”Mountain Braves" came into being. Although, I can not recall all the players that made up the original Mountain Braves I would like to mention some that I do remember. Bert Hull was the goal keeper. Other team members were: Ron Davis, Tom Perret, Ignatious (Nish) Woods, Jack Hunt, Charlie Hann and Wilbourne (Gil) Hann. Bert Hull went overseas with the Nfld. Forestry Unit and later joined the Royal Air Forcea and moved to Scotland. Ron Davis, after serving with the Royal Canadian Navy, returned home to work in the paper mill in Corner Brook. Tom Perret served in the Merchant Navy during the war and lived in Mt. Moriah until his death. Jack Hunt, my uncle, who was the captain of the team, also lived in Mt Moriah until his death. Charlie and Gil Hann, who were brothers, were originally from Trout River. Nish Woods lost his life when the ship he was serving on was torpedoed during the war. His family later moved to Ontario....




Page transcribed by: Ulrich Schmitt
Page revised: Oct. 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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