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Rev. Henry Leggo's - Interesting Budget
from Flower's Cove

1901 April 17th The Western Star
Editor Western Star

 

Dear Sir.- A word or two from this far away corner of the island, may perchance help to enlighten the good people of Bay of Islands, how it fares with their neighbours in these higher latitudes. About the beginning of the year, “our boys” returned from the herring fishery, nearly all having done well, and each bringing home some of the golden eagles of America.

Winter is gradually passing away and as winters go on this coast the present one has not been severe; at the beginning of the year and lasting for about a fortnight, excessive cold prevailed, rendering it very trying to travellers and also to the dogs. About the 25th January there began a mild which in the recollection of the oldest inhabitants in the Straits has never been surpassed; for nearly a month it rained incessantly every day until not a vestige of snow remained on either marsh, or barren, and little streams and tiny brooks were converted into angry and roaring torrents, rendering travelling both difficult and dangerous; the air was soft and balmy, reminding one of pleasant spring weather. The Straits were free from ice during the month of February and were as easily navigated as in the month of August. Many old seals were seen sporting on the water, or lying asleep on the unruffled surface of the sea, but they here hunted and chased, shot and captured by the people of every cove and harbor, until they were forced to leave and look for shelter and safety in other waters than those of the Straits of Belle Isle.

A week or two ago people were expecting a visit from the white coats, but up to the present only one has been secured; should they give us a call, a warm welcome while be accorded them, as hauling ropes and “swoiling” gaffs are in readiness.

A week ago, what would have been a sad disaster was barely averted. A rumor got about that there were young seals on the ice; immediately every man from Flower's Cove and French Island Harbor started for the ice-floe, notwithstanding the fact that the wind was blowing off the shore and the ice, which was nothing but frozen slob, might be blown to sea at any moment. The rumor of white coats was false, and men seeing signs of stormy weather began to return home. By 3 o'clock nearly every man was on shore, and it was not until nearly an hour later, it became generally known that John WHALEN and his boy, Henry, had not returned. At this time it was blowing almost a gale and the wind still increasing. A scene almost baffling description took place on shore, women wringing their hands and crying, men trying to comfort WHALEN's wife, while others started at once in the hope that he (John WHALEN) had landed at some other settlement. Amid all this excitement and terror John was being rescued about four miles form home by Mr. GENGE, of Deadman's Cove. Seeing the gathering clouds and the darkening sky, and expecting his boys home from another settlement, he with a large telescope anxiously scanned the ice, and turning the glass seaward he saw what looked like men; getting into a better position he was enabled to make out that they were men. Soon a boat was launched, and willing hands seized the oars. In a short time the strip of water was crossed and John WHALEN, Henry WHALEN and Azariah APLEN were mercifully preserved from a watery grave. John WHALEN is well known in Bay of Islands having been there for some time.

We have heard down here that the French Shore question has been satisfactorily settled and that no more French will be allowed to fish in any of our waters.

News of the death of our beloved Queen came as a shock to us all, and not having heard of her illness we could hardly credit such information until, on the 3rd March, we received the papers which confirmed the sad report. Hers was a good reign, and what was said of David may be well applied to her “She died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour, and Edward her son reigns in her stead”. May his life be as pure, as noble and as Godly as his mother's and then all may be well.

There has been a great deal of sickness on the coast this winter, and the death rate, when compared with other winters, has been high. German measles has been prevalent, and people not exercising sufficient case have taken cold and in most cases have died. There has been a doctor on the coast whose headquarters are at St. Anthony, about 50 miles from here; the doctor has had a very busy time of it, and travelling during the mild weather was almost an impossibility, there not being snow enough to use dogs and comatic, and as for walking, it was almost beyond the power of man; yet, many places were visited and much pain alleviated; having to go over such an area, renders it almost impossible to do work of any kind satisfactorily.

Our schoolmaster and Layreader met with a painful accident six weeks ago: While out shooting sea birds he accidentally set his gun off while in the act of drawing the load, the charge passing through his right hand, blowing the little finger clean off and damaging the one next it to such a degree as to render is quite useless. At present he is doing well and will soon be able to resume his work.

Deer have been very scarce this winter, and many parties have returned after three weeks in the country with empty comatics. Partridge and almost curiosities, some two or three have been shot this winter. People down here seem to thing that the game laws do not apply to this part of the country, and in the spring when the birds couple for breeding purposes, they hunt and shoot them; such outrages ought to be put a stop to at once, or in a very short space of time the partridge will have entirely disappeared from this coast.

Very little fur has been caught this season; its scarcity may be traced to several causes. The mildness of the winter may be attributed as one reason, while not recognizing the law, which makes it an offence to trap after last of March, another.

The mailman has had very trying weather during the winter and he has successfully done his work under many difficulties. We get, or are supposed to get, a mail every fortnight. Our papers are generally over a month old, as can be seen by the above illustration in relation to the death of the Queen which sad event happened on 22nd Jan. We received papers containing that intelligence 3rd March.

We have seen since coming on this coast all the people from Castor River to Lock's Cove in Hare Bay. These named places are the boundaries of the Mission known as the Mission of the Straits of Belle Isle, not to speak of 50 miles of coast on Labrador which belongs to the mission. In winter the people put the parson from place to place with comatic and dogs. This is a capital way of getting about and a quick method of travelling.

The mile on this coast may be anything from three-quarters to over one-and-a-half
hence, the mile conveys no meaning as to distance, nor yet can one judge time by walking, as what may be considered five mile will in most cases take over two hours to walk. Distance depends entirely on the going and on the quality and enduring powers of the dogs. A clergyman in the diocese who worked for several years on the Labrador, once asked a man how far it was from A to B. “Oh, sir,” replied the man, “if the going is good it is no distance, but if bad, why then, sir, it is a long way”. Now the same thing applies here and only last week it took me seven hours to do a journey which under ordinary circumstances could easily have been accomplished in three.

With the exception of two of three families the people on the coast are provided fairly well for the winter.

Hoping I have not taken too much of your valuable space.

I remain,
Yours truly,
Henry LEGGO, Mission Priest & Incumbent.
Flower's Cove, 15th March, 1901.

 

 

Transcribed and contributed by Linda Elkins-Schmitt (March 2008)

Page Last Modified March 06, 2013 (Craig Peterman)

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