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EDUCATION AND OTHER STATISTICS
The interest Monsignor Sears evinced in the secular education of his people is clearly indicated by one of the first undertakings which occupied his attention on coming to take spiritual charge of the West Coast. I refer to his remodeling and improving at considerable expense an old residence which had been given to him by Bishop Mullock. This house, as he tells us, he intended to be a home for a community of nuns, who in the day-school, would instruct the local children at Sandy Point, and then by means of a boarding-school exert their good influence through the furthest corners of the Prefecture through the well-trained teachers they would send forth to take charge of the schools which he had even then planned to construct here and there.
The Monsignor was never able to bring this idea into the realms of reality, for it was not till 1893, in the days of his immediate successor, that the first community of the Sisters of Mercy from the U.S.A. were welcomed to Sandy Point.
If he had had the good fortune to secure a community of nuns at the outset beyond doubt he would have made more rapid strides in his school-building programme, for such an institution would have solved the all-important question of the supply of efficient teachers for his peculiar circumstances. Even as it was he found it difficult to build the schools, especially before 1881, when the money re-
ceived by way of a special grant from the Government for education reached scarcely $1,000.00. He found it even more difficult to secure the right type of teacher when the schools had been built, teachers that is who while possessed of sound education and ability to convey their own knowledge to others were also prepared to accept the isolation incidental to all the little settlements of the West. With a convent Boarding-School at his service for this purpose he could have drawn from the best elements from the local people, who when properly trained as teachers, being already accustomed to the circumstances of life in the locality, would not find conditions as hard as those coming from the more advanced portions of the island Besides, under his own watchful care, he could have developed in them some capacity to become leaders in the different settlements that would be given them, with a view to keeping the flock together.
That he was fully alive to the importance of giving the young generation the benefits at least of an elementary education as far as it was possible for him to do so, is abundantly evident from the following statistics. He was motived by both by a sense of justice to the children who would through education be in a position to improve their status when grown up as well as by the danger he sensed from proselytizing effects of schools erected by other churches.
Schools in operation in the Parish of Sandy Point, 1884;
Sandy Point Taught by Miss Morrissey Highlands " " Miss Bonia Port-au-Port " " Mr. A. J. O'Reilly Campbells Creek " " Miss McDonald
In addition a schoolhouse at the south side, i.e., St.
George's, was within a month of completion when the returns given above were supplied.
The report adds that at Cape St. George the frame of a schoolhouse had just been erected and the work of building would recommence immediately.
Preparations in the way of collecting funds were also being made for the immediate construction of three other schools, viz: Keeping's Brook, Main Gut, Black Duck Brook.
These figures are copied from the original of a report of Sandy Point Parish transmitted to the Prefect by the priest in charge, the Rev. Fr. R. Phippard. They speak for the year 1884.
In brief, then, the number of schools in Bay St. George in this year was:
In actual operation-Four Schools
In contemplation-Three Schools
I conclude that at this period and probably earlier there was a school in operation at Bonne Bay, this appears from entry in his account book giving a list of elementary school books dispatched to that place in care of Mr. Hollohan, who was in all probability in charge of the school there. I cannot say for certain, however, who the teacher was at any time.
In Bay of Islands I find that the undermentioned were paid salaries for teaching schools there for the school year 1882-'83:
Corner Brook Miss Anne Collins ........... Miss Rose O'Reilly ............ Mr. McKenzie
At Bay of Islands, too, I notice that he established something in the way of a lending library. The books
being sent in rotation to the different teachers who were responsible for their safety.
For the school year, 1880-'83, school was taught in the Grand River section for full terms by the following, as the payment of salaries shows. I have not been able to find the location of these schools:
Codroy John McDonald John McIsaac Fred McLellan Hugh McDougall
These schools were all well attended, as the returns of the teachers show, and the parents as well as the children seemed to be fully alive to the benefits of education that were being placed at their disposal. Many of the schools were small, but we can discover a desire on the part of the people to improve on their first efforts. Thus at Halfway Point in Bay of Islands it was unanimously decided at a meeting of the people of that place to build a new school "as the one then in use, 16 x 16, was too small for the purposes."
For the Bay St. George section of the Prefecture very full statistics are available for the year 1884. The Bay was then apparently divided into parishes, two in number, viz: Sandy Point and Stephenville. Sandy Point extended from the Highland settlement on the south-side of the Bay as far as Indian Head on the North Side. The Priest resided at Sandy Point.
Stephenville extended from Indian Head and included the whole of the peninsula of Port-au-Port with the few scattered islands off the mainland at the Cape and in Port-au-Port Bay. The priest, when there was one available, was stationed at Stephenville.
The figures for Sandy Point section, 1881 are as follows:
Householders Persons Seal Cove to Main Gut 20 107 Black Band to Flat Bay 45 240 Sandy Point 40 180 Banks Head to Fischells Brook 30 185 Robinsons Head to Highlands 28 162 Totals 163 881
The figures for Stephenville section for the year 1884 are as follows:
Householders Persons Indiad Head to Keepings Brk. 59 398 Keepings Brk. to Gravels 22 116 Campbells Creek 13 62 Campbells Crk. to Luke's Pt. 14 89 Luke's Pt. to Cape St. George 18 105 Red Island 6 36 Fox Island 12 57 Black Duck Brook) 27 140 Clam Banks Cove ) Totals 171 913 --------- Totals for the whole of Bay St. George 334 1,794
Summary of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, Bay St. George, Years 1881-1884
Marriages Baptisms Deaths Sandy Point 40 142 20 Stephenville 43 189 95
Receipts Expenditures Sandy Point $288.00 $279.00 Stephenville 144.50 244.53
In the very last statistical report which Monsignor made out in 1885, the year of his death, we give the following which are of historic interest:
Catholic Population of Prefecture 3,200 Protestant " " " 14,000 Priests 4 Schools 12
The annual resources of the Prefecture are given in France as follows:
Annuities other than from Propag. of Faith $ 2,380 Government from Education Note $ 6,900 Unnamed $ 670 $ 9,950
The annual expenditure for the year 1884:
Transcribed by Bill Crant, Elmsdale, NS Canada, by permission of St. George's Diocese, St. George's, Newfoundland
Page Revised: February - 2003 (Don Tate)
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