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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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