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by Frank E. Clarke
In my research into the factors affecting the evolution of municipal politics in Victoria I have come across a great deal of information. One of the more interesting was the growth of Local Road Committees in the province. This was important as it set the stage for community meetings and lobbies which addressed local needs in the community . These meetings shaped political thinking and helped pave the way for local government, not only in Victoria but in many communities in the province. The fore runner to local government in Victoria Village, at one time called Hearts Content Road, was none other that the practice of electing or appointing Local Roads Committees. This practice, like many other initiatives, was introduced to create work for the poor, particularly the fishermen, who were facing hardship due to failures in the fishery. Victoria Village, being a Labrador Fishery Community, was in desperate need of sustainable work. Members of the House of Assembly recognized that one of the most important needs in every community in Newfoundland was the ability to move from place to place in the community. For the most part, residents in the coastal communities visited each other by boat or walked overland. Within the communities themselves common paths were established which allowed people to visit their neighbours and enabled them to go into the woods to gather this much needed commodity. It is believed that as early as the 1600s fishermen from around Carbonear, Crocker's Cove, Blow-me-Down, Freshwater and Salmon Cove went inland behind what is now Victoria using pathways possibly established by natives or in some cases they followed animal paths to gather wood, fish and hunt.. As well, as early as the 1700s extensive pathways were established all over the Avalon Peninsula. Some of these paths are believed to have been used by the French when they devastated many of the Avalon Peninsula communities including Carbonear.
Reverend Moses Harvey (1820 - 1901) estimated that from 1813-1894 there were some 3 000 miles of established trails and a further 2 000 miles of postal roads in Newfoundland The first organized effort to establish roads took place in St. John's in 1825 when a road was built to Portugal Cove. The government had long recognized that land connections were necessary to improve commerce in the region and to break down the isolation of the outports. Mr. Joshua Green, the province's first road surveyor, was appointed in 1833. One of his first tasks was to survey roads in Conception Bay. He helped establish the first Local Road Commissioners and established Road Boards to build new roads. One of the first recorded was the Road to Northern Bay built in the early 1800s. This road must have passed on the South side of Beaver pond in Victoria Village. By 1949 there were only 2 200 miles of quality road in the entire province. For the most part those others that were in existence were merely paths. The first major project undertaken in this area was the construction of a road from St. John's to Harbour Grace which was completed by 1837. It is interesting to note that Green's second task was to complete a road from New Harbour Road to Trinity Bay. The distance from Heart's Content to Carbonear is approximately nine miles and one can speculate that some kind of a path orroad connecting these two communities was built around this time, as early as 1820. Road construction was sporadic until around 1901 From 1901 to 1925 the standards for road construction improved and in 1925 a Highroad Commission was formed which lasted until 1933. Members of the House of Assembly were conscious of the political advantage of better roads and lobbied strongly to improve those in their districts. By 1930 most of the community roads on the Avalon Peninsula were completed and maintained by Local Road Boards. Due to the Depression there was slow progress until around 1936 - 37.
The first formalized attempt by Government to assist in the repair and maintenance of local roads was made in 1916 under the "Act Of the Administration of Local Affairs in Outport Districts." This Act provided for the election of road boards in areas where there were not less than eighty electors qualified to vote. Grants were usually allocated by the local Member of the House of Assembly through his local supporters. These boards received one half of their grant on April 1 and the remainder on October 1 of each year. One requirement was that the grant be made for poor relief based on a per capita basis. After 1942 there was no organized attempt in this area to provide funding for repairs and maintenance of local roads. It therefore became the role of local Magistrates, Relieving Officers, Politicians and Rangers to organize relief labour. This program fell into despair as local workers did not want to be recognized as being poor or destitute.
Needless to say this did not work. However, many community leaders wrote to the government of the day and asked for help to improve their local roads. In 1942 Magistrates recognized the state of transportation links and recommended that something had to be done to improve them. In most communities Local Road Committees were formed to maintain and repair local public roads. The essentials of this plan was that magistrates should nominate local committees of not more than 5 nor less than 3 for each settlement less than 2 000 population. The amount of the grant was $25 per mile. This scheme did not go over well but lasted until 1956 at which time there were more than 600 Local Road Committees in the province. 1956 brought "The Local Road Board's Act" which established and administered Local Road Boards throughout the province in communities that were not incorporated. At that time the grants rose to $2 per person in the community. To qualify there had to have been a public meeting at which the voters approved a work program to submit to the Department of Highways. By 1957 there were 540 Boards serving 740 settlements with had an expenditure of $300 000.00. In 1964 the grants were changed to account for Councils and recognized highways. In the case of Victoria little is known of the first Local Roads Committees. Oral tradition has it that they were elected at a public meeting held at the College Hall or the Orange Lodge. Those elected applied for a grant to the appropriate department of Government. The government agents for the communities usually issued Road Grants and ensured that the most needy went to work. Normally each project employed a foreman who also had his horse and cart hired on for a fee. The usual practice was to remove clay from gravel pits on "the ridge" and " the Heart's Content barrens" using picks and shovels, place it in the box-cart and spread it on the most deserving pot holes. No records exist today showing the hiring process at Victoria, but some suggest that Jim Stephenson, among others, was an advocate for improvement to the local roads. It seems he worked with Jack Cumby of Heart's Content who took over the operation of the Half-way House, on the "barrens" and was responsible for road repairs between Carbonear and Heart's Content.. He sometimes hired men from Victoria and Heart's Content to work on the road during the summer.
A number of interviews with older people living in the community revealed names of people that they knew of, or who had heard others say, worked on the Local Roads during some time in their lives.. The following people, among others from the community, were reported to have worked on the Local Roads in Victoria at one time or another. In some cases birth dates and dates of death of some of these people were revealed.
NAMES BIRTH/DEATH Antle, William 1886 - 1975 (Superintendent) Antle, Samuel Sr.. 1883 - 1952 Antle, Samuel Jr. 1921 - 1988 Antle, Jabez 1890 - 1955 Antle, Leonard 1895 - 1975 Antle, Charles Sr. 1892 - 1960 Antle, Robert 1876 - 1947 Antle, Albert 1887 - Antle, William J. (Little Bill) 1918 - (Horse June) Antle, Willis Antle, Clyde Antle, John R. 1911 - 1986 (Pickup truck hired on) Antle, Clarence Antle, Charles Antle, Wilson 1940 - Antle, Harold J. 1943 Antle, Sidney 1940 Ash, Mark 1878 - ? Ash, William 1899 - ? Burke, Samuel 1873 - ? Burke, James 1876 - ? (Horse " Queen" and Cart) Burke, Joseph Burke, Albert, Jr. Burke, Albert 1906 - ? Burke, Mark Butt, Johnny 1906 - ? Butt, Martin 1903 - 1947 Butt. Thomas 1894 - ? Butt, Harold 1906 - ? Butt, William 1916 - ? Baldwin, William 1871 - ? Bright, Edward 1898 - ? Clarke, Augustus 1880 - ? Clarke, Arthur 1884 - ? Clarke, Frederick 1889 - 1966 Clarke, Jack (Boyd) 1916 - ? Clarke, James 1874 - 1966 Clarke, Willis 1872 - ? Clarke, George 1819 - ? Clarke, Isaac 1888 - 1938 Clarke, Nicholas 1888 - ? Clarke, Elihu 1872 - 1916 Clarke, Llewellyn Clarke, Gilbert Clarke, William (Walt's brother) Clarke, George (Carl's father)1939 Clarke, Augustus Jr. Clarke, Simeon (Dean) Clarke, Donald Clarke, Walter, (Nellie's Walt) Cole, Alex (El) Cole, Charles Cole, Eugene Cole, Lewis Jr. Cole, Elias 1896 - 1977 Cole, Issac (Ike) Collins, William 1885 - ? Collins, John 1896 - ? Curnew, Jabez 1903 - ? (Horse and Cart) Dean, John 1901 - ? Dean, James 1888 - ? Deering, Robert 1900 - ? Evely, Gordon 1906 - ? Evely, Robert 1939 Frampton, Guy 1938 Hiscock, John 1889 - ? Hiscock, Edgar 1900 - 1971 Holloway, George 1886 - ? King, Cecil 1896 - ? Langer, George 1909 - 1990 Little, Ezekiel 1912 - ? Little, John 1902 - ? Little, Walter Murray, Absolem 1886 - ? Nichol, John 1891 - ? Parsons, Ernest 1901 - ? Parsons, Ernest 1914 - ? Parsons, Moses 1901 - ? Parsons, Richard (Uncle Dick) 1897 - ? Parsons, Sam Peckham, John 1916 - ? Penney, Valentine 1897 - ? Priddle, Abe (Foreman) Priddle, Ruben 1901 - ? Priddle, Lionel 1885 - ? Priddle, Lionel 1889 - ? (Horse "Dan"and Cart) Pye, Fred 1899 - 1965 Royal, Henry 1887 - ? Russell, Hayward Slade, John 1893 - ? Snook, Robert 1900 - ? Snow, Leonard Snow, George 1901 - 1969 Stephenson, Jim 1899 - ? Summers, Sam 1918 - ? Summers, William 1901 - 1982 Summers, Ruben 1904 - ? Summers, Samuel Summers, Elliot Summers, Fred Sutton, Henry Sutton, John 1917 - ? Vaters, John 1897 - ? Vaters, Samuel 1903 - ? Vaters, Fred Vaters, Cecil Vaters, Leander Vaters, George (of Leander Vaters, Fred (of Leander) 1939 Vaters, Chesley Wareham, Samuel 1879 - ? White, Albert 1892 - ? (Paymaster) White, Robert 1892 - ? White, Samuel 1893 - ?
Page contributed by: Frank E. Clarke
Page revised: Oct. 2002 (Terry Piercey)
Edgar Hiscock updated Aug 2013 by Mario Allen
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