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Month: March 2021

Gift of Food

Gift of Food

Here’s another easy act of kindness. How about helping out at the local food bank … at Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving or at any time. There are many ways to do so, from providing monetary donations, non-perishable food items or even items such as toothpaste, shampoo and so on. It all helps.

Angel’s Cove

Angel’s Cove

When a young man by the name of James Coffey, from Waterford, Ireland first travelled to the Cape Shore, he became the first person to settle in Angel’s Cove. It was during the 19th century and he had come to work for the Sweetman Company, a large fishery firm based in Placentia.

The Sweetman Company was eager to provide the food for their workers. Previously, the company had purchased the food from Britain, which was a far more expensive arrangement than if they could supply it themselves. And so, initially, newcomers such as James Coffey were farming. While this was the primary source of employment for many of the young immigrants, by around 1874, their mode of employ would change—land to sea. The men eventually shifted their attention to fishing and by 1891, the nine fishermen who were residing in Angel’s Cove had landed 345 quintals of cod worth $1,472 (Decks Awash, Volume 19, No. 3).

By the time 1898 arrived, James Coffey had died, leaving his widow Catherine (McAlpine’s Directory 1898). Over the years, they had been joined by David, Patrick, Jeremiah, James (likely James Senior’s son), William, and Michael. The daughter of James and Catherine, Ellen had married James Follet of Clattice Harbour. Their four sons and three daughters also lived in Angel’s Cove.

Life proceeded apace into the next century and with the arrival of 1935, 74 people in 13 families were making a home for themselves in Angel’s Cove. But over time, more and more people moved away, no doubt seeking opportunities in places such as St. John’s. And nowadays, there are only a few year-round residents, some of whom are related to the original Coffeys who settled the community over a century ago. Angel’s Cove is yet another small community on the Cape Shore with strong ties to a rich past.

Point Verde

Point Verde

Point Verde has featured in the history of the Placentia area in several ways. Throughout the centuries, Point Verde played a role in helping to maintain the strength of European powers in Newfoundland. And like Crève Cœur, Point Verde functioned as part of the fortifications of Fort Royal and Fort Louis.

Later in 1906, Wm. F. O’Reilly wrote of how Point Verde contributed to the beauty of the area. As he remarked, “Who has entered [Placentia], either by rail along the placid waters of the North East Arm, or by boat between the historic points of Point Verde and the sheltering heights of Castle Hill, without being struck by its scenic beauties?” He and others noted the value of the area to sportsmen seeking to hunt the “Partridge Grounds of Cape Shore.” Similarly, in Newfoundland and Labrador: Unrivaled resorts for the tourist, health seeker and sportsman, the authors highlighted the scenery, emphasising how, “[t]he drives to Argentia, Southeast, and Point Verde afford every variety of land and seascape.”

Today, many hail Point Verde for its view of Placentia Bay and for the breathtaking sunsets that quietly, and yet magnificently, signal the end of the day.

Note: Reid Newfoundland Company were the authors of Newfoundland and Labrador: Unrivaled resorts for the tourist, health seeker and sportsman (p. 35). This company built the main line and numerous branch lines (such as from Whitbourne to Placentia) that crossed the island.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Here’s an idea. How about cooking and delivering a meal to a friend who needs it? They might be very busy, at the moment, with a new baby or a sick family member. They just need a break … Whether you already do this or it’s a new idea, always know that this act of kindness will be a welcomed relief and give you a chance to give a gift of joy. A smile will soon follow.

Crève Cœur

Crève Cœur

In “A Lecture on Placentia,” LeMessurier refers to this site, explaining how by that time it was apparently known as Privaceur Point although it was originally “Crève Cœur.” Since that time, this part of the coast is known again as Crève Cœur, the Heart breaking point.

Was it just the curious shape of the cliff or rock that resembles a broken heart that gave it this name or was there something else? Like other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, lore and legend bestow meaning and mystery to the area known as Crève Cœur. Legend speaks of how, during the 1600s, a French soldier fell in love with a local woman (Crève Cœur was the site of a military battery). It was as Crève Cœur where they would meet every week. One sad day, the love was broken when the soldier revealed he was to return to France to someone waiting there for him. And despite her pleading to return with him and for their love to not be broken, her words were mute. And so, with a broken heart, legend speaks of how she hurled herself from the cliff to die on the beach below. Is it her cries that are heard echoing amidst the rocks and cliffs as the waves crash on shore?

It’s Free to Give

It’s Free to Give

Here’s a thought by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-88). It’s simple and something we can all do. For whatever reason, someone might just be too tired or unable to smile. So, give a small gift of kindness and smile for both of you! As he says, “ … no one needs a smile as much as those who have none to give.”

The Bright Side of Life

The Bright Side of Life

Stressed Out

No doubt we can all remember those too often moments at work when we were expected to do what no human could possibly accomplish. And they wanted it done yesterday. It seemed insurmountable and we’d go home fraught with nerves. Our teeth would clench with the stress, our jaws clamped and tight. The next day, these stresses and feelings of anxiety would invariably be there waiting for us, taking little time to swirl around and relentlessly feed our hopelessness, bitterness, and inner trauma.

Day in and day out, we spend much of our time lost in thoughts coloured in darkness, stress, and negativity. We’re swallowed by that throat-clenching heartache, fear or anguish which combine to feed our stress and anxiety. Sometimes, we’re able to pull ourselves out of it. But at other times, those feelings that brought us down decide to hang around, pulling us further below.

Many of us are caught on this treadmill of darkness and we become consumed by thoughts of negativity which feed our feelings of stress and anxiety. It’s like we’re on autopilot, simply interpreting and re-interpreting in accordance with our beliefs and fears. There is little chance of stepping outside our perspective. Someone says “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” and our response is a reference to how “it’s not going to last” or how “it’s still really cold” or “it’s too hot” and just simply not enough. Before we know it, our negativity affects what we do and soon, it just becomes normal to go on thinking that way. Ultimately, it comes to reflect how we go forward in our lives—our destiny.


With all these negative emotions taking control, we’ve now entered “survival-mode.” Our bodies are under stress and our evolution has ensured we respond accordingly. There’s nothing wrong with it and it’s actually a necessary response. If we were walking in the woods and we heard branches breaking behind us, our feelings of stress would rise and would soon trigger our “fight-or-flight” response. We would quickly turn around, only to realise it was just a tree falling. We relax, maybe laugh with relief, and then go back to normal. The problem is that sometimes our feelings of stress are never relaxed by a fight, nor a flight response to safety. We are never relaxed because the “danger” remains. Survival-mode emotions simply hang around and we are in a constant state of stress.

So, our problem is now living in survival-mode, that is, in constant stress. And this brings with it very real problems. Anything from chest pain and fatigue or stomach upset and sleep problems. At its worst, it can lead to depression.

Turning the Page

So, how do we get out of survival-mode and the feelings of constant stress and anxiety that accompanies it? One of the techniques is to find a way to connect with yourself. Listen to your body. It may be saying loud and clear what it needs. How healthy is your diet? Are you getting enough sleep? Just take a moment and listen.

Take time to connect with others in your life, be it a loved one or friends you’ve been too busy to contact. Sit down and give them a ring. Make a date to meet. Don’t forget exercise or other relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, or deep breathing. We can also take some time to enjoy a hobby or perhaps reading a book. These are all methods we can use to relax and bring down the levels of stress in our lives.

There’s a saying that’s been attributed to different people, one of whom being Buddha. And it goes,

The thought becomes the word,

The word manifests as the deed,

The deed develops into the habit,

Habit hardens into character,

Character gives birth to destiny.

So watch your thoughts with care,

And let them spring from love

Born out of respect for all beings.

There are ways to think positively.

So the next time some negative thought enters your mind, reach up and catch it before it can turn the key and open the door of your heart to unnecessary stress and anxiety. It may not always be easy, but it is well worth your time to look on the bright side every now and then.


Learning to Forgive

Learning to Forgive

We can all think of those moments when someone has said or done something hurtful. But we all make mistakes and maybe that person is already quietly sorry for their words or deeds. So, an Act of Kindness that will benefit you and the other person is to simply forgive them without hesitation. Learn to let it go and forgive others. It will bring lightness to your heart and no doubt, do the same for the other person …

O’Reilly House Museum – Change is in the Air

O’Reilly House Museum – Change is in the Air

A photograph of O’Reilly House Museum

It’s All About Change

Since 1989, the Placentia Area Historical Society (PAHS) has been refurbishing and reinventing the O’Reilly House Museum, one of its primary holdings. This past year has been no exception. A more recent holding was added last year, as well.

In recent years, the PAHS decided to radically change the interior of their museum. Headed by members Vera Greene and Christopher Newhook, the PAHS decided to exchange rooms for their displays on the top floor. So, the “Resettlement Room” exhibit changed places with the “Master Bedroom” exhibit.

Also on the top floor, they transformed what was once the “Maid’s Room” into the “Basque Room” which holds some notable displays such as the authentic Basque headstones. These were at one time in the cemetery surrounding St. Luke’s Anglican Church. Other artefacts are reminiscent of the period in the sixteenth and seventeenth century when the Basque fished the waters of Placentia Bay. One, in particular, is a copy of the Last Will of Basque sailor Domingo de Luca from 1563. In it, he asked to buried in Placentia. The Will also happens to be the earliest civic document found in Canada. The PAHS made additional changes by exchanging the “French/English Room” with the “Notable Citizens Room,” alongside altering much of the design and layout of the museum.

A Leap of Faith

Beside these modifications, the PAHS made another significant leap by taking over the ownership of St. Luke’s Anglican Church, a building that is adjacent to the museum. After deliberations with the Anglican Council, St. Luke’s was sold to the PAHS for the sum of a dollar. It had suffered due to the inability of the existing parishioners to care for it and so, it had been closed and de-consecrated.

A photograph of St. Luke’s church.

With its rich and interesting history, St. Luke’s, a Registered Heritage structure, will be comfortably at home under the protection of the PAHS. Although the church and the building have changed, St. Luke’s sits on a site of considerable age. A building on St Luke’s site is believed to have been used by the Basque when they first landed in Placentia, in the sixteenth century and possibly earlier. Several other churches have been built on the site in past including what was probably the first Catholic church in Newfoundland.

With the addition of St. Luke’s, the PAHS has not been idle. They’ve been offering tours of the church during the summer. In addition to these changes, there are hopes to broaden the role of St. Luke’s. The idea will be to retain the current look and feel of the church for continued tours in the summer. However, in addition to tours, the PAHS is hoping to also rent out the church, in order to raise funds for its upkeep. For instance, the Placentia Area Development Association recently ran workshops for seniors on topics such as hooked mats, as well as art instructions by local artist Christopher Newhook. For several years, St. Luke’s has been to location for “Winter Solstice,” an event intended to celebrate local talent. The goal is to continue this activity in the future.

If these changes are any indication, the PAHS will continue to be a main driver of change in the landscape of the Placentia area for years to come.

Source: Tom O’Keefe

Gooseberry Cove Provincial Park

Gooseberry Cove Provincial Park

Nowadays, anyone visiting Gooseberry Cove Provincial Park would never believe that it was once a settlement. In the nineteenth century, Gooseberry Cove was home to several families with roots in Ireland. The Doyle family arrived around the year 1840 and almost 35 years later, there were farmers working the land and fishermen harvesting the riches of the sea. Most were no doubt related to the original Doyle family.

Gooseberry Cove was never a major settlement and its population peaked during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The McAlpine’s Directory from 1894 to 1897 listed four Doyle families and one Dalton family. By 1921, McAlpine’s Directory noted the presence of five families who still resided in Gooseberry Cove. With the arrival of 1935, only ten people remained and by 1958, the last remaining inhabitant, Richard Dalton, left Gooseberry Cove, moving to Patrick’s Cove a little to the north.

Time marches on and Gooseberry Cove is now a welcoming provincial park. The wide sandy beach with the waves crashing on shore beckon anyone visiting the beach to simply delight in the pleasure of the moment. There are picnic tables in case anyone is in the mood to enjoy a meal to the serenade of the waves. Otherwise, Gooseberry Cove Provincial Park offers an unrivalled view of Placentia Bay which on a clear day is a breathtaking sight to behold.