Thursday, May 10, 2012

Icebergs and Whales

It currently is Iceberg Season in Newfoundland, there are many locations along the North and East sides of the island to view icebergs and whale watch. This little video features a boat tour from St. Anthony, located at the Great Northern Peninsula. Come Along!  Let's Go!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Shamrock School


For much of Canada's history and well into the Twentieth Century, many of Canada's children were educated in one room, multi-grade schools. [2]   Education was not always a public concern in the Harbour Main District of  Newfoundland.  Those children who did attend regularly were interested in book learning but the majority remained home to work with their parents either fishing or farming. [3]  The Shamrock School in Lakeveiw Harbour Main District stood at the junction of two roads, a site known locally as "Fardy's Cross". [4]   Aunt Agnes said, she believes there was a family named Fardy in the community and possibly it was their land the school had been built on.

This junction of two roads with a Cross, is also the location of The Old Irish R/C Cemetery that I wrote about in the post dated 04/21/2012, which is  at Conception Bay Hwy and Harbour Dr.

The Shamrock School was built in 1908, the white clapboard building was forty feet in length, twenty feet wide with a high peaked roof and ceilings that were at least twelve feet in height.  At the back of the school was a large attached porch that served as the school's entrance, with hooks on its walls for the children's outer garments and a large coal bin situated at it's rear.  Also attached to the back of the school were two outhouses, one for the girls and one for the boys, and these were accessed through a short partitioned hall.  During the period of study, the school had electricity but no running water.  Thirty-five to forty students seem to have been the average number attending the school at any given time.

In the center of the classroom sat a pot-bellied stove with a sheet of metal beneath to protect the floor from sparks. It was here that mittens dried after a winter's recess.  On exceptionally cold and windy days, the stove was sometimes taxed beyond it's capacity, despite the zealous efforts of the older boys to stoke it until it was red hot.  At such times, the teacher would dispense with the orderly row of desks and allow them to be moved around the stove in a roughly circular fashion. so that the children could better share the limited heat.  The lack of a schoolyard did not pose a problem, for the ponds, the woods and Kennedy's meadow were all easily available, the children organized their own activities during recess.[5]

In 1908, when the Shamrock School was built, my grandfather Stephen was 13 years old, he was well passed the age to start attending school, receiving his education from life experiences working with his father and family.  After reviewing the education history of Harbour Main District, it seems that there were schools established in neighboring communities, but the distance was probably an interfering factor for my grandfather and his siblings to attend, including the generation before him. My mother shared the story that her father was taught to read and write by her mother, who had been a school teacher before they were married.  My grandfather was 32 years old, when they married.  Uncle Ray explained that during this time period in Newfoundland, if a person could read or write they would be placed in a managerial or foremen position, and in return received higher pay.

My mother and her siblings all attended the Shamrock School in the 1930's -1940's.  Mary Costigan, who is mentioned in the top photo, taught at the school from 1942-1947 The Shamrock School was phased out at the end of 1966-67 school year upon the centralization of schools in  Harbour Main Parish.  It was demolished a few years later and with its removal a familiar landmark in Harbour Main disappeared.[6]

[1] "Our People.... Our Church...." Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Harbour Main, Chapel's Cove, Lakeview Newfoundland, 1857 - 1982, Copyright 1983 by Rev. J. Glavine, P.P. pages 68-69.

[2]   Pat Trites, "The School on Fardy's Cross" Shamrock School Remembered, Framing Our Past, Canadian Women's History in the Twentieth Century.McGill-Queen's University Press 2001, pages 184 - 188.

[3] Alice Strapp, "History of Harbour Main",  Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogical and Historical Data, , Education.

[4] Ibid [2]

[5] Ibid [2]

[6] Ibid [1]

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Search

The process of collecting information for my Flynn Family History Blog has been most rewarding.  Especially the connections made with family members and the discoveries brought forth along the way.

After interviewing Aunt Agnes in California about her school days experience in Lakeview Newfoundland, I went online searching for additional information about The Shamrock School. My thinking was, " You just never know, what you will find".

 My search lead me to a Biannual Journal  of  Eastern Canada's History called ACADIENSIS, this journal contained a section listing new publications relating to Eastern Canada, the listing directed me to an essay written by Pat Trites in 2001 entittled,  "The School on Fardy's Cross" Shamrock School Remembered.  The essay was nestled in the book "Framing Our Past" Canadian Women's History in the Twentieth Centery, pages 184-188.  I was able to view these pages online to confirm that this was truely the Shamrock School that Aunt Agnes was speaking about and that my mother had told me about.  An unbelievable find, five pages about the Shamrock School!!!!!!!

The next step, getting a copy of this book for my own reference. I  started searching for a source to purchase this book, checking for the possiblity of an e-book download ,but no such luck. I did find a used copy of the book available through from a former library in Florida.  The book was described as being slightly used, but in good condition, library taged and labeled. It sounded perfect to me. I made the purchase, and 3 days later, I received this very informative treasure!

Stay tuned for my next post about "The School on Fardy's Cross" using this additional information.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Schools Days

I was talking with Aunt Agnes recently on the telephone, asking her endless questions about her school days.  She told me they attended the Shamrock School in Lakeview, Harbour Main.  My mother had also told me about the Shamrock School, I remember questioning my mother," It was really called the Shamrock School?" but living in a community of many Irish descendants,  it was a good choice for a school name. In Christianity, the Shamrock is a symbol recognizing the Holy Trinity. In Canada, education during this time, was denominational.

Aunt Agnes went on to tell me, of how the Shamrock School was a one-room school house for grades 1 thru 9.  The school was just down the road, up by the Cross, a 5-7 minute walk from Flynn's Hill. During the winter months, they walked through the cold snowy blizzards.  She remembers, the teacher allowing them to stand near the pot-belly stove to warm themselves and to dry their weather dampened clothing.   The children took turns bringing firewood and coal from home contributing to the schools heat supply source.  Occasionally, she states, they would stay home from school to help with duties around their house, like digging up potatoes for the winter.  She emphasised, that this did not happen very often, especially since their mother was a former teacher and their education was a priority. But at times, it was necessary.

Mary Costigan- Teacher at The Shamrock School
(woman on the Rt- in white dress)

To further their education, which was optional for grades 10-11 , the children in the community attended the Convent School operated by The Presentation Sisters in Chapels Cove.  My mother was one of the first to attend this "Commerical Course", which offered lessons in bookkeeping, typing and shorthand.  Aunt Agnes said, she attended the Convent School also, with the determination  of following her older sister, (my mother) to get a job just like she did on the U.S Navy Base Argentia.  She not only got a job on the base, but took my mother's position as secretary to the Supply and Fiscal Commander, when my mother left for New York. The skills taught at the Convent School were mostly utilized by young women.  Further education for young men was obtained by actual on the job training, learning from their fathers or men in that trade or moving to the city for additional schooling.

During his visit last year, Uncle Ray helped to identify the above photo, Aunt Agnes then confirmed that this was their teacher Mary Costigan.  The Flynn children attended the Shamrock School in the 1930's and 1940's.

The Flynn Children
Front Lt to Rt - Agnes, Rose, Ray
Back Middle - George
In my conversation with Aunt Agnes, she mentioned that she has a postcard of the Shamrock School, hearing this, I could not hold back my response," OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" we both laughed. She promised she would look for it and would send a copy when she found it,  Thanks Aunt Agnes.