Author Antony Berger contributes insight in to the history of the Gros Morne area.

Life in late 19th century Bonne Bay was really tough for many people, especially when a hard winter followed a poor fishing season. In January, 1885, Woody Point was “surrounded with ice and shall probably be so until May. Frost ranges from 20 to 15 below zero.” The Church of England cleric here, Rev Charles Hollands, writes to a friend in England seeking clothing for people in his parish, which extended from Trout River to Flower’s Cove. Those who can will be asked to pay something, so they won’t become reliant on charity.

 “Our fisheries have been failures. Many men have not enough flour for a week or so in their houses. Knowing that food was scarce and worse, ..compelled the people to obtain all the food they could, and leave the matter of clothing for themselves, wives and little ones to ‘chance’.  . . What little clothing I had has been given to the widows and fatherless first, and then to the most needy. I do not give so as to make paupers. If I have any articles to spare and I know they are wanted by some, I let them be had at about one-half of the cost price, and sometimes for two-thirds, and use the proceeds for some charitable object, such as building a Church or School Chapel, or helping to furnish one or the other. Thus, the people are not dependent.”

Rev CH Hollands

(From “The Net Cast in Many Waters. Sketches from the Life of Missionaries for 1885.”  London: Bemrose and Sons)

Antony Berger

Antony Berger is the author of The Good and Beautiful Bay: A History of Bonne Bay (to Confederation and a Little Beyond).