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A newsy snapshot of the past from the Bay Roberts Guardian

According to its masthead, "The Bay Roberts Guardian" celebrated 31 years in the service of the town and its people in 1940.

Burton K. Janes

According to its masthead, "The Bay Roberts Guardian" celebrated 31 years in the service of the town and its people in 1940. Edited by Charles R. and Arthur S. Russell, the newspaper was issued every Saturday from its office on Water Street. The annual subscription in Newfoundland was $1, while Canadians, Americans and British paid $1.50. "During the 1940s," Dermod C. Madden explains, "the paper continued to report local and foreign news and, in addition, adopted an editorial policy which was pro-Confederation."

The Aug. 17, 1940 edition, which Ross Boone of South River allowed me to read, is a newsy snapshot of a moment in time.

Of first interest to me are the advertisements. Dawe's Nail & Hardware, which was located in both St. John's and Bay Roberts, promised "Quality, Service and Satisfaction." Roland Baggs operated a local- and long-distance taxi, promising "Anywhere - At Any Time. Prompt Attention Given All Calls." Az Norman, a self-styled "Careful Driver," also operated a taxi. Littlejohn's provided a coach service. R.W. Goodwin and W.H. Stevenson of Harbour Grace represented Manufacturers Life and Mutual Life, respectively.

Local items mingle with foreign news and public notices. Iris Butler of Manuels spent a two-week vacation in Bay Roberts, the guests of the J.R. Carivans. Fannie Menchions left that week for Grand Falls. Traveling salesman, Clarence Scott, was in town on a business visit. Mrs. A. Gordon, who had visited her parents, Capt. Abe and Mrs. Parsons, returned home to Canso, NS, by train. Prim Seaward of St. John's spent a holiday with Aubrey and Mrs. Sparkes.

Mrs. Cyril Mercer visited her parents, the John Moores, before returning home to Sydney, NS, by express. Gordon Bowering left by train for Grand Falls in search of employment. Jean Wells of St. John's spent a vacation with her grandmother, Mrs. R.J. Wells. Lloyd Moores and Mollie Hudson of Blackhead spent a week with friends in Bay Roberts. Gladys Mercer returned home from Blackhead, where she had visited relatives and friends.

Hayward Mercer, son of the Beth Mercers, had arrived in town from Nain, after spending five years with the Hudson's Bay Company at various posts on the Labrador. He would be returning north in October. The Salvation Army captain, Olive Peach of Kelligrews, holidayed with Commandant and Mrs. R. Bowering, before assuming responsibility for the Creston corps. Nellie Early left for Grand Falls for a holiday with relatives before proceeding to Wesleyville to resume her teaching duties in the United Church school in September. Mrs. Arthur Snow and her son, Clayton, had left by express for Watertown, Mass., to visit her ailing mother, Catherine Snow. Josiah and Mrs. Gosse, Donald Gosse and his daughter, along with Bert and Mrs. Dicks of Bell Island, visited relatives and friends at Salmon Cove, near Carbonear, Spaniard's Bay and Bay Roberts.

On Aug. 7, a son was born to Edward A. and Mrs. Snow of Bay Roberts. On Aug. 16, a son was born to the John D. Pierceys, also of Bay Roberts. These happy occasions were accompanied by the sadder reality of death. Hazel French contributed an in memoriam for her aunt, Eliza Winnifred Baird French, who died on Aug. 14. A "darling son and brother," William Edward Snow, son of the Edward Snows of Coley's Point, "departed this life" on Aug. 13.

Birthday greetings were extended to the following individuals who had recently celebrated their birthdays: Rachel Mercer, Iron Bound Island, Labrador (Aug. 3); Malburn Bradbury, Country Road (Aug. 10); Clyde E. Bradbury (Aug. 17); Olive Mercer, Shearstown (Aug. 11); Edmund Mercer (Aug. 12); James Eric Russell (Aug. 12); Mildred Snow, Coley's Point (Aug. 12); Rufus Bowering (Aug. 15); Gladys B. Mercer, Mercer's Cove (Aug. 15); Jack Vokey, Spaniard's Bay (Aug. 15); Warren Bradbury, then serving in the Newfoundland Militia (Aug. 17); and Edward John Bradbury, Crane's Brook (Aug. 19).

Donald Snow, son of the Charles Snows of Bay Roberts, had volunteered for the Royal Navy.

Both the Clarke's Beach Salvation Army and the Bishop's Cove Church of England garden parties were scheduled for Aug. 21.

The editors extolled the efforts of Hilda Barrette - note the spelling of her last name - who had made an annual appeal throughout Massachusetts "for clothing, etc., to be distributed in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador by the Grenfell Association.... We are indeed pleased to hear of Newfoundlanders abroad who are themselves and by influencing others contributing to such worthy causes in this country as the Grenfell Mission and the Twillingate Hospital."

I wonder, are any of the above-named individuals still living?

— Burton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His column appears in The Compass every week. He can be reached at

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