Category Archives: Labrador

100 Sunrises for the Kyle

100 Sunrises for the Kyle, originally uploaded by eracose.

On April 7th, 2012, the SS Kyle celebrates one hundred years.  The SS Kyle was completed on April 7th, 1913 and officially launched 17 April 1913 by Mrs R. G. Reid, wife of president of the Reid Company of Newfoundland, long before Newfoundland became a province of Canada.

It is moored today in Harbour Grace, where people often photograph the boat because of its long attachment to the Labrador Fishery.   The SS Kyle had several phases of existence. It was a ferry on the Cabot Strait run between Port aux Basques in the country of Newfoundland and North Sydney, NS in Canada; it was a coastal boat bringing fishers to take part in the Labrador fishery; and in 1960, it was purchased by the Earl Brothers Fisheries of Carbonear and used in the seal trade until 1967 when an iceberg accident caused it to be moored in the Harbour Grace. During a storm, the SS Kyle broke its moorings and drifted to Riverhead where it has been standing ever since.

The SS Kyle and the Labrador Fishery

Fishermen and workers bought tickets at the Railway Stations in Conception Bay North to go the Labrador Fishery on the SS Kyle.  Ted Russell’s Famous Story Poem, Smokeroom on the Kyle, recounts the experience of storytelling while traveling to and from Labrador.

Tall are the tales that fishermen tell when summer’s work is done,

Of fish they’ve caught, of birds they’ve shot, of crazy risks they’ve run.

But never did a fisherman tell a tale, so tall by a half a mile,

As Grampa Walcott told one night in the Smokeroom on the Kyle.[1]

[1] Smokeroom on the Kyle  Ted Russell, The Chronicles of Uncle Mose (Flanker Press, 2006)

Kelly Russell performing “Smokeroom on the Kyle” from the deck of the Kyle, 2011
"Tall are the tales that fishermen tell..."

The SS Kyle was an important part of the lives of many people of this region.  For example, when the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation, the Bay Roberts 50+ Club and Ascension Collegiate conducted interviews with seniors for the “Holdin’ Ground Project” (which was supported by New Horizons Canada), we found that the Kyle had played a pivotal role in many of their lives.
Interview with Mr. Cecil Greenland (who was 104 years old at the time.)

(These interviews are online

The role was so important that when a film festival was held during Culture Days in 2010 at the Amalgamated Academy to show the interviews, students from each class recited one verse from “Smokeroom on the Kyle” and there was a Kyle Cake to celebrate the occasion.  The whole event was broadcast to the full school with their internal video system.

Mr. Gus Menchions, who has traveled on the Kyle many times and who has made a model of Kyle, participated in the Labrador Film Festival and displayed his model of the Kyle.  As well, Mr. Menchions was special guest during the opening of the Model Boat exhibition during last year’s Holdin’ Ground Festival.

The Rorke Store Museum in Carbonear houses an Exhibit called Balancing the Scales, which chronicles the connection to the Labrador fishery which was very much an integral part of the Rorke legacy.  Florence Button from Carbonear has written a play about the role of women in the Labrador Fishery entitled Connecting Rooms: A Tribute.” One story is about a young women, at nineteen, going to the Labrador on her Honeymoon on the Kyle – but the men were in one section of the ship and the women in another!

Florence Button reading from her play:

At the Cupids Legacy Centre in Cupids, there is a large display about the Labrador Fishery.

The Fishery

Pat Collins of Harbour Grace last year published “The Spirit of the Kyle.”  From the description of his book:

The S.S. Kyle, a 220-foot steam ship that is a cherished icon to generations of people in Newfoundland and Labrador, was launched in 1913. In February of 1967, it ran ashore in a gale and it now lies aground in the harbour of the town of Harbour Grace. The ship proudly known as the ‘Bulldog of the North’ was used mainly for transportation of people and goods from St. John’s to Labrador. It also transported soldiers from Newfoundland to mainland Canada during World War Two. The Kyle was part of the Reid Newfoundland Company’s Alphabet Fleet: ships that all bore the names of a Scottish town. The Spirit of the S.S. Kyle, author Pat Collins recounts the history of the incredible ship by intertwining real life with a love story that encompasses murder, romance, forgiveness, and the mystic Seaman’s Ghost that continues to guide and watch over the Kyle.

Pat Collins with his new book, and Dennis Flynn

Pat Collins (l) with his book and Dennis Flynn, author and photographer with close ties to the SS Kyle

For the past three years, Libby Earle, daughter of Guy Earle, the last owner of the Kyle has carried out a “Swim the Kyle Event” to bring attention to the SS Kyle in Harbour Grace and to highlight its importance to the history of the area and to raise money to preserve the SS Kyle.  This year’s 4th Annual Swim will take place on Saturday, September 14th, 2013.

Touching the Kyle

Libby Earle, daughter of the last owner, Fred Earle, Reaching the SS Kyle in 2012.

More photos from last year’s “Swim the Kyle” > >

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Filed under Baccalieu Trail, Carbonear, Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Avalon

“Our Life on Lear’s Room”

Greta Hussey, 89 years old, originally uploaded by eracose.

Greta Hussey of Port de Grave reading from her book “Our Life on Lear’s Room, Labrador” at the Bay Roberts Visitor Information Centre. The book has been relaunched by Garry Cranford of Flanker Press, St. John’s.  The Conception Bay North Region, including Port de Grave, Bay Roberts, Harbour Grace, and Carbonear, has an important history with the Labrador Fishery.


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Filed under Baccalieu Trail, Bay Roberts, Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Avalon, Uncategorized

Culture Days 2010 in Bay Roberts

Bay Roberts, like many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, has always been subject to the whims and whallops of the Atlantic Ocean. We were very fortunate last weekend for two reasons. First – our town (unlike many communities along the eastern coastlines of our province) was spared the worst effects of Hurricane Igor. Second – we enjoyed a wonderful weekend with “Culture Days.”

While we cannot forget our friends and neighbours who have been subjected to such destruction and suffering, we want to acknowledge this weekend which celebrated a way of life which has always been dependent on the Atlantic Ocean.

Gus Menchions [95 years old] cuts Kyle cake with Sandra Roach of the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation
Gus Menchions [95 years old] cuts Kyle cake with Sandra Roach of the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation

More photos from Culture Days at the Amalgamated Academy on Flickr > >

Labrador Fishery Television Broadcast at the Amalgamated Academy

The first event was a celebration of the people from the community who participated in the Labrador Fishery. Principal Violet Parsons-Pack, her staff and the student body of the Amalgamated Academy took part in the presentation through their internal television broadcasting system.  David Gill, technology specialist, set up the production in the Resource Centre.  Students operated the cameras and teleprompter.

Program of Labrador Film Festival

  • A reading each of the 17 verses of Ted Russell’s  “Smokeroom on the Kyle” by a student representative from each class.
  • Showing of 4 Video interviews (approximately 10 minutes each)  with seniors who participated in the Labrador Fishery which were produced in 2009 by the Bay Roberts 50 Plus Club, students of Ascension Collegiate High School, and the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation with funding by New Horizons Canada. The interviews were with Cecil Greenland of Coley’s Point (104 years old);  Emmie Roach of Coley’s Point (90 years old); Gus Menchions of Bay Robers (95 years old); and Ralph Greenland of Coley’s Point (80 years old.)
  • Cutting the SS Kyle Culture Days Cake (prepared by Powell’s Supermarket) by Gus Menchions, special guest for the Film Festival and Sandra Roach, General Manager of the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation.

Cooperation from Principal Violet Parsons-Pack, staff and students of the Amalgamated Academy was outstanding, especially since the school was closed for two days due to Igor.
Culture Days - Violet Parsons-Pack, Principal; and Corey Morgan
Principal Violet Parsons-Pack and Corey Morgan, Performing Arts Teacher

“Salt-Water Moon” by David French

Robyn Brockerville and Bobby Hogan
Robyn Brockerville as Mary Snow and Bobby Hogan as Jacob Mercer.

Jerry Mercer, who had produced “Salt-Water Moon” by David French for his summer theatre at the Victoria LOL#3 Museum and Playhouse, happily agreed to produce the show on  Friday and Saturday night for Culture Days.  The feeling at the show was unbelievable!!  “Salt-Water Moon” echos voices from our community’s past – from “charming tooth aches” to warding off “fairies” with  bread crusts to the evils “truck system” to traveling on the SS Kyle. It was as though the audience and actors were “one,” laughing out loud and crying together.
Marc Warren, Director and Jerry Mercer, Producer
Marc Warren, Director and Jerry Mercer, Producer

More photos from “Saltwater Moon” on Flickr > >

Techniques of the Pigeon Inlet Quilters

Mayor Glen Littlejohn - Quilt and Community
“Mayor Glen Littlejohn – Pigeon Inlet Quilt and Community

On Saturday afternoon, the Pigeon Inlet Quilters met with interested members of the general public to discuss techniques of landscape quilting in general, and specifically the the subject matter of the Pigeon Inlet Quilt and how it was made.

Ready for questions about landscape quilting
Ready for questions about landscape quilting

More photos from the Pigeon Inlet Quilt on Flickr > >

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Filed under Baccalieu Trail, Bay Roberts, Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Avalon

The SS Kyle – Part of Our History

The Kyle

Originally uploaded by eracose

Driving along Veterans’ Memorial Highway near Harbour Grace, I am always torn between looking down at the Kyle in the harbour and looking across the road at the Harbour Grace Air Strip [which is perhaps disconcerting to oncoming traffic.]

The Holdin’ Ground Project

However, it was not until we began working on “The Holdin’ Ground Project” that I realized the full impact of the Kyle on the lives of people in Conception Bay North. Dale Jarvis, Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer for the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador,was part of the audience at the Holdin’ Ground Project Launch.  He pointed out that the towns of Conception Bay North – Carbonear, Harbour Grace, Spaniard’s Bay, Bay Roberts, Brigus, and Cupids (just to name the larger towns) are very well known for their ties to the Kyle and the Labrador fishery.

Many of the older citizens interviewed participated in the Labrador fishery at some point in their lives, and many of them traveled to coastal Labrador on the Kyle.

Mrs. Emmie Roach (88) tells of going to the Labrador on the Kyle as young woman.

Cecil Greenland (104), Gus Menchions (94),  and Ralph Greenland (80) also describe going to the Labrador.  See other interviews that were part of the Holdin’ Ground Project  > >

Ted Russell’s “Smokeroom on the Kyle”

As part of  “A Time in Pigeon Inlet,”  Ted Russell (through the magic of recording), Kelly Russell, Russells the Corner,  the Pigeon Inlet Players, and the audience read Ted Russell’s “Smokeroom on the Kyle.”  Ted Russell, who grew up on Coley’s Point, must have heard many stories about the Kyle .

“A Time in Pigeon Inlet” is held Saturday nights until September 4 in Bay Roberts > >

Victoria Loyal Orange Lodge #3 Museum and Playhouse

In addition, Victoria Loyal Orange Lodge #3,  which  has been resorted and opened to the public as a play house and museum by Brenda and Jerry Mercer, has a 10 Foot Hand Made Model of the Kyle.

Information about the Victoria LOL #3 Museum and  Playhouse > >

The Pigeon Inlet Quilt

The Pigeon Inlet Quilt which was recently donated to the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation by the Pigeon Inlet Quilters Guild has two blocks based on “Smokeroom on the Kyle.”  The top left block  is “The Kyle” by Norma King and the block with the pot bellied stove almost in the middle of the left side is “Inside the Smokeroom on the Kyle” by Heather French and Enid Penney. [They even have “coal” – made of labradorite – in the bucket.]  In order to make the block, they consulted older members of their family who could remember what it looked like.  [The quilt is on permanent display at the Bay Roberts  Visitor Information Centre on Veterans’ Memorial Highway.]

Quilt based on "Chronicles of Uncle Mose."
Pigeon Inlet Quilt

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Filed under Baccalieu Trail, Bay Roberts, Brigus, Carbonear, Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Avalon, Spaniards Bay

The Rock… from Many Perspectives: Newfoundland Photography.

Living in Newfoundland and Labrador inspires photography.  The spectacular setting of the capital of St. John’s, as well as the unique local housing, such as Jellybean Row, and Quidi Vidi Village, are frequently photographed.

In “Outports,”  located on the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean,  the ever changing moods of wind, light, and water are a photographer’s delight.  Because the province is very sparsely populated, nature is on the doorstep… many varieties of birds and other wildlife are frequently seen;  wildflowers, trees, and other plant life is always on display.  And of course, rocks and rocky seascapes are everywhere.

Our own photos of Bay Roberts and nearby communities on the Northern Avalon can be found on Flickr:

Because of the quality and variety of  Newfoundland Amateur Photographers who display their works on Flickr and blogs, we have been using these for time as a source for regional photos for both print and websites.  After finding a suitable photo, we contact the person who has posted it and ask for permission to use the photo, assuring him or her that we will credit the work in any publication.    Almost without exception, they have given permission.

Below is a listing of some sites we check very frequently for the quality of their photos:

Karen Chappell  Location: St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
Karren Chappell - Family views Iceberg

Karren Chappell - Family views Iceberg

Lloyd C. Rees: Location: Chamberlains, CBS (On the other side of Conception Bay from Bay Roberts) – photos of seascapes, birds, wildflowers, historic photos.

Lloyd Rees - Sailing near Bell Island

Lloyd Rees - Sailing near Bell Island

Clyde Barrett: Location: Bishop’s Cove, Conception Bay North (On the other side of Spaniards’ Bay Harbour.) photos of birds, seascapes, icebergs, wildflowers, boats.

Clyde Barrett - Young Bald Eagle

Clyde Barrett - Young Bald Eagle

Geoff Whiteway : Location: St. John’s.  He teaches at the Marine Institute, which is affiliated with Memorial University, in St. John’s.  His photos have a unique look and feel.

Iceberg Off Shore by Geoff Whiteway

Iceberg Off Shore by Geoff Whiteway

Jean Knowles : Location:  St. John’s.  She is a Tour Guide in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her photos are of scenery, wildlife and flowers.

Jean Knowles - Iceberg from Signal Hill

Jean Knowles - Iceberg from Signal Hill

Mark Robertson Tsang: Location: West Coast Newfoundland. He is a ski instructor/coach in the winter months and is also a tour guide.  His photos of wildlife and plants are amazing – he even uses the correct biological terms.

Mark Robertson Tsang - Great Northern Peninsula

Mark Robertson Tsang - Great Northern Peninsula

I will be presenting another list in the near future.  There are just too many to include in one posting.

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Filed under Admiral's Coast, Baccalieu Trail, Bay Roberts, Brigus, Carbonear, Killick Coast, Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Avalon, Photography, Tourism, Western Newfoundland