Historic connections

Bill Bowman
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On a couple of occasions recently we've used the headline: Battle of Bunker Hill to draw attention to current disputes surrounding the steep, narrow street on the north side of Carbonear.

We knew there was an infamous and far more serious battle of that name fought during the American War of Independence.

Editorial - On a couple of occasions recently we've used the headline: Battle of Bunker Hill to draw attention to current disputes surrounding the steep, narrow street on the north side of Carbonear.

We knew there was an infamous and far more serious battle of that name fought during the American War of Independence.

Recently we were reminded that a man from Carbonear had actually fought in that earlier and far more serious battle. He also survived the battle, to tell the tale and return to his native hometown, where he died and is buried.

J.R. Smallwood's Encyclopedia of Newfoundland records the following brief piece of information on one JOHN BRINE (1745-1847). Soldier. Born Carbonear (?).

"Nothing is known of Brine's early life except that as a soldier he fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill under the command of British General Gage. The Battle was one of the most important colonial victories in the American War of Independence. It took place at Bunker's Hill and Breed's Hill (both referred to as Bunker Hill) just north of Boston (Mass.) on June 17, 1775.

"Brine died at Carbonear at the age of 102 on November 28, 1847. The Morning Courier (Dec. 15, 1847). The Royal Gazette (Dec. 14, 1847) DPJ.

We would like to credit former Carbonear resident Peter Withers for bringing that interesting bit of historic trivia to our attention.

According to Wikipedia, the original Battle of Bunker Hill took place "mostly on and around Breed's Hill, during the Siege of Boston early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after the adjacent Bunker Hill, which was peripherally involved in the battle and was the original objective of both colonial and British troops, but is occasionally referred to as the Battle of Breed's Hill."

We do not know if Carbonear's Bunker Hill got its name from the hill where the historic battle took place 235 years ago. But it is quite conceivable that John Brine could very well have lived on that hill or in that area of town at one time, and the hill could have been named after his very real involvement in the historic battle of that name.

Wherever the truth lies buried with the 18th century, thankfully the 'battles' ongoing over our own Bunker Hill in the 21st. century are all verbal and far more civil than the original one.

In one case we have a couple who continue to grasp at straws in their efforts to secure a building permit on a nameless service road that connects Bunker Hill with English Hill.

Wherever you stand on the issue, you have to give them an A for tenacity and resilience in the face of the odds against them already spelled out in council and appeal board decisions.

In another case we saw the residents who actually live on Bunker Hill petition their council to reverse a decision not to plow the nameless road. While residents do not need to use the service road to access their homes under normal circumstances, there have been occasions when the route has proven to be a godsend. For example during raging blizzards when it is difficult if not impossible for a plow to navigate up the steep incline, emergency vehicles have been able to access homes on Bunker Hill from the top, using the service road.

The town has since decided to resume snow clearing on the nameless service road, with conditions. Council does not want the public to assume that just because they are clearing the road, it is a public road for normal use. The road is to be used only for emergency access to Bunker Hill during severe winter conditions. Other use is strictly prohibited. This is a short-term solution for this winter until a more permanent solution can be found.

If it does take a war of words to settle a dispute, as weapons, words are far more acceptable than any other kinds of weapons used in any earlier battles.

Besides the pen is still mightier than the sword!

Right Monsieur Napoleon!

Organizations: Royal Gazette

Geographic location: Bunker Hill, Carbonear, Boston (Mass.) Newfoundland

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