Friday, March 10, 2017

"The Merchants of Main Street" An Oral History Project

What a day! The high winds and the bitter cold afternoon couldn't stop the launch of a vital piece of Grand Falls-Windsor history. Today (March 4th) was the launch of The Merchants of Main Street a project by The Heritage Society Newfoundland under Terra Barrett and our own local Heritage Society. A project driven by local Heritage Society member Audrey Burke. Main Street was one of the main retail beacons in Newfoundland with close to 40 stores back in the fifties and sixties .What was surprising was  the number of younger people who took the time to come and view the historic pictures and videos. According to one organizer 160 plus people came through the doors on March 4th for the book launch. Anyone who grew up during the bustling days of Main Street would have appreciated the event. If you want a copy of the book "Merchants of Main Street" an oral history you should get in contact with the local Heritage Society on High Street. Heritage Society is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Mayor Barry Manual

As you all know, my grandmother Lilian Manual had a connection to Riffs working there for many years.I remember being there at a very young age. I was born in 1970, three years before our Mha Al arrived.What I would like to say is a big thank you to all the people who made this day possible. I know we have such a dedicated group of volunteers at the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society who work tirelessly all day everyday to preserve our history – and it is important.
One name I would like to mention is Beverly Butler,  unfortunately, she is not here today as you all know, but she is looking down here today with a big smile. She was so passionate about the history of the community and the two former communities. 

Yes, we became Grand Falls -Windsor 25 years ago and because of it we are a better town. The name captures the history of the two former towns.We need to celebrate our history. This is something we need to keep doing for generations to come.

We have plans for the future, waterfront development and we need to intertwine our history. The story we have to tell is so unique in this community. We want to make sure that story is preserved and told. Heritage is something we all need to protect for a longtime to come. Special thank you to all who made this day happen.

Ann Warr

Local Heritage Society member Ann Warr read a passage from Amanda Williams’s poem The Main Street Melody written in 2010. It went something like this. 


  Strolling down Main Street on a warm summer’s day,
  My memories just happen to  whisk me away,
  The sound of soldiers as they head off to war,
  The site of George Stewart inside of his store.
  A song and a memory so cleared my mind,
  I wished to walk longer heading down the line.   

Roy Olford 

Had the wonderful task back in the sixties Ed Power and myself, we wrote the history of Windsor and will try and incorporate some of the things we learned today. The train is what made these towns at first because it was the only mode of transportation. The merchants were smart  because next to Main Street was Bond Street and this is the way the town was first setup, with store fronts facing down towards Main Street.

The merchants of the day were smart. They said, “If our customers are coming by train and our merchants are coming by train why wouldn’t we put our store fronts facing the trains on Main Street”. This is what they done. Now you would get customers patronizing the business next to the station.

Another memory of mine was the IWA conflict. I was at the 7 PM movie with the boys and girls my age at the Vogue Theatre. My father came in and he said we have to get out of here. When we went outside everything was blocked with about a thousand people on the street. 

The IWA had a building rented on Main Street and were feuding with the Company over the rights of the lumbermen in the woods.  It all boiled over when Joey Smallwood the landed lad came out the head of the IWA Union.  The body of constable Moss who had been killed in Badger arrived by train. All hell broke loose and people who were in the Union office were taken out the back and taken to Grand Falls. Mr. Oldford said it is something I will never forget.  Part of history we soon would all like to forget but it is important that we remember so it will never happen again.

Lucien Forbes 

During the book launch of the oral history project Lucien Forbes, President of GFW Heritage Society said that most of the pictures and films were from the Albert Hillier collection. He said there were over 8,000 negatives that were being converted. Lucien said Albert’s nephew David turned the files over to the local Heritage Society.

Mr. Forbes also thanked Terra Barrett, Kelly Drover and Dale Jarvis from the Newfoundland Heritage Foundation for their dedication to the Oral History Project, The Merchants of Main Street.  A copy of Angela’s Foss painting of Main Street and a book were presented to the NL Heritage Foundation. 

A copy of the book “Merchants of Main Street was also given to all who took the time to participate in the oral history project interviews. It was noted that Audrey Burke was one of the main driving forces behind the project. At the beginning of the speeches, there were an estimated 180 people who came through the doors.  Organizers were overjoyed with the turnout and the mixer of young and older people. The book the Merchants of Main Street sold out and the Heritage Society will have more available from their office at the Town Square Mall on High Street at a cost of $10.00.

Dale Jarvis 

Development Officer with the Newfoundland Heritage Foundation

This is part of a project called collective memories where we've been helping communities tell and share their stories, to ensure that the stories live on toward the next generation. So in addition to the booklet you see today, alot of the stories Terra did, she collected through her interviews are going to be placed online through MUN’s digital archives. They will be freely accessible for generations yet to come.


Thursday, March 9, 2017


TRIBUTE TO FRANCIS PATRICK MEANEY                                                                        (1909-1988)

He had a lasting impact On people served Rev. Francis Patrick Meaney, spiritual and temporal leader of St. Joseph’s R.C. Parish for forty years, died at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s on Sunday, Sept. 11. He was 79 years old. On the evening of Sept. 14 a faith-filled grateful people, proceeded by a K of C Honour Guard, packed into St. Joseph’s church to celebrate a thanksgiving ceremony to God for the life, gifts and talents of Rev. Frank Meaney. Bishop J. Faber MacDonald, together with fifteen priests and a seminarian from the Diocese of Grand Falls, led the service. On Wednesday afternoon, the K of C joined the huge crowd to celebrate the final farewell funeral liturgy before the body of Father Frank Meaney would find a resting place in a plot reserved for priests in Mount Patricia Cemetery, Corner Brook. Father Meaney was born in Brigus, Conception Bay on Nov. 19, 1909. He grew up in Harbour Grace attending primary and elementary school there. After graduating from high school at St. Bonaventure’s College, St. John’s, he proceeded to Laval University in preparation for the Priesthood. On May 26, 1934, Rev. Meaney, bi-lingual, was ordained a priest in Quebec. He then returned to the Diocese of Harbour Grace. For six years he served as assistant priest in the Immaculate Conception Parish in Harbour Grace and ministering to the R.C. people on the Labrador Coast during the summer months.

In July 1940, Father Meaney became the first pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Windsor. His ability and skill as a builder quickly became evident. Living in a rented home he undertook the task of constructing a six-room suitable school, a dwelling place and a church to replace one recently destroyed by fire.

By 1943, Father Meaney had erected and officially opened a Convent to accommodate seven Presentation Sisters to care for the educational needs of a rapidly growing parish. By 1954, the congregation had Out grown the church and were comfortably accommodated in another erected on the previous foundation. The latter was completely renovated by Father Meaney according to the Church renewal proposals of Vatican Council II.

By the mid-fifties, the six-room school had become an imposing structure of 24 rooms, complete with up-to- date facilities. Today, the young R.C. students of Windsor enjoy their school days in St. Francis Xavier School built and named as a tribute to the priest who, for a generation and a quarter, so unselfishly devoted himself to the spiritual and educational needs of St. Joseph’s Parish.

In addition the parish ministry included travelling to all R.C. missions as far west as the boundary of Deer Lake - i.e. Badger, Millertown Junction, the Gaff Topsails, Little Bay, Pilley’s Island, Robert’s Arm, Little Bay Islands, St. Patrick’s and Springdale.

From 1949-53, Father Meaney commuted three Sisters from the Convent in Windsor to teach in the school in Badger. During these years, Father Meaney lost no time in reconstructing a recently purchased family home into a convent complete in all details expected of R.C. Church law in the 1950’s. By 1955, with the aid of workhorses and the people of Badger, he transported the school and church onto the convent grounds collecting all three buildings into one imposing parish property.

For forty years, dedicating the ministry to the people of Windsor Parish was Father Meaney’s main concern. The huge crowd of mourners who attended two funeral ceremonies testify, in no small degree to Father Meaney’s ability to touch and spiritually inspire people. During his fifty-four years of priestly ministry Father Meaney was recognized by all people as a strong personality. He was candid and outspoken and a person very much concerned about the spiritual and temporal welfare all people but especially that of the poor,and the underpriviledged and rejected. Indeed he was a man ahead of his time in justice and social concerns.

He displayed a unique ability to examine matters in a solid philosophical and theological manner, challenging issues of faith, freedom and morals.

Parishioners of St. Joseph’s, in tribute to him, speak of his energy, his courage, and his ability to foster and maintain the co-operation of his people. They speak of guidance and enlightenment coming from his teaching and his example. They speak of his compassion for the sick, the poor and the unfortunate. His brother priests speak of Father Frank’s prayerful life and his total dependence on and faith in God.

Father Meaney retired from active duty in 1979. He continued to live near the parish so dear to his heart until August 1988, when he took up residence in St. Patrick’s Mercy Home. He died on September 11, 1988, having faithfully fulfilled the mandate of his priestly ordination and highly respected by all who knew him as brother priest, friend, neighbor or fellow-citizen. Magdalen O’Brien PBVM

My Dear Friends:
Today we come together as brother Priests, friends, beloved former parishioners of Father Meaney to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in thanksgiving to God for the life, gifts and talents given by God to Father Frank Meaney, gifts that he used to reach out, to touch and to heal so many people. Father Meaney posessed many wonderful gifts and talents, but his greatest gift was the ability to be a friend to so many, and while he could walk with the greatest, his deepest love was for the poor, the underprivileged, the lonely, the downtrodden of society. This is what St. Paul speaks of in the second reading - “Put on love.” (1 Cor. 13) His whole life was to be a companion to people on their spiritual journey to the hidden reality and mystery of Jesus.

In reflecting on his death and on his life, I see how deeply he affected the lives of all who knew him. I think this fact was proven last night and today by the huge numbers that came along to pray for him and say a final farewell. What a great tribute to a great man. Father Meaney deposited something of his life in every person he met, seeds that would and will continue to grow and bear fruit. Father Meaney expanded the last energy of his life in the service of his God and of others. There is no more life in him because it has been totally given away.

Rev. Kevin Barker
My friends, it is a rare and wonderful experience to know a Priest of God such as Father Frank Meaney, a father, a spiritual friend, a brother, a companion. The People of St. Joseph’s, Windsor are indeed privileged to have had such a man as Frank Meaney to be their spiritual leader for 40 years and the Diocese of Grand Falls will miss a devoted, loyal and faithful Priest of God.

I would be remiss if I did not mention his great love for the Holy Eucharist. His constant visits to the Blessed Sacrament, his devotion to the Mother of God. As a curate to Father Meaney in the mid 60’s I was always impressed by his prayer life, at night sitting in the dim glow of the sanctuaty light in a little chapel before Christ presence in the Eucharist, or walking on the grounds thumbing his Rosary. He couldn’t have accomplished so much in life, during difficult years without that total dependence and faith in God.

Frank Meaney was an ordinary person with ordinary gifts, but because he put so much of himself in everything he did, and into every relationship he had, he became an extraordinary priest. He had the great grace of a parish priest, that rare common touch that made every person feel very special. In Father Frank Meaney we caught a glimpse, a touch of Jesus.

Father Meaney has glorified the Father’s name and because of his faithfulness is now experiencing the reward promised to all who faithfully serve him in this life. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

Rev. Kevin Barker,
Pastor, St. Joseph’s Parish, Windsor

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Labour Day a rich history or Death

Here we are again just a few weeks from The Labor  Day weekend, the last long weekend of the summer. Our town Grand Falls-Windsor has a rich history when it comes to Labor Day. In 1894 the first Monday in September was declared a holiday for labor through the efforts of American P.J. Mc Guire. Grand Falls and Grand Falls Station as they were known celebrated its first Labor Day on Monday September 6th, 1920. On April 5th, 1925 major trade unions consisting of blacksmiths, typographers, boilermakers and carpenters formed the Newfoundland Federation of Labor , in Grand Falls. Here we are again in 2010 on the heels of another   Labor Day. This year will mark a milestone in our history with what I hope will be the 90th annual Labor  Day celebrations. Labor in Grand Falls-Windsor will commemorate just as big a milestone in 2011 as we celebrate the 75 anniversary of the Federation of Labor being organized in Grand Falls-Windsor. Yes we have a lot to celebrate when it comes to Labor Day and its rich history. Are we as a community going to sit by the sidelines and watch it fade off into the sunset or are we going to stand up and do our small part. Labor  have provided the economic engine in our community for over one hundred years. Is it not only fitting that the Business Community continue to help in some small way by sponsoring loot bags for the kids and an afternoon of bingo, cards, and entertainment for our seniors. This would surely help lift the burden from the organizers who are trying to keep this celebration going , hopefully at least until we reach 100 years of celebrating , Labor  Day.

Over the last number of years there have been a lot said about Grand Falls and Windsor in the singular sense. It seems people have the impression that Grand Falls are getting all of the cookie from the administration of Town while Windsor are being thrown a few crumbs to keep them quite. Yes there are new homes and subdivisions going up, in the former Town of Windsor, but, that is a private sector initiative. Last year there were social media outcry because  of the potholes on Main Street. One person posted a picture of the new fountain on High Street and compared it to Windsor's new fountain, the potholes. When you compare the original Main Streets  of the two former Towns, Main Street is more of a business district.You have Roy's Tv, Wayne's World, Grants Shoes, Grants Sports Excellence, New Town Cleaners, B and W Meats, Hunter's Framing, Trailways Inn, Fabrique Boutique, G L Audio, as well as other businesses on Bond Street. Most of these businesses are consumer driven operations on a daily basis, serving people with goods and serves for their daily living. In the meantime High Street caters to more offices and services along with the banks and drugstore.

“We are pleased to provide support for the development of a new civic building which will support enhanced social and economic activity for residents of Grand Falls-Windsor and surrounding areas,” said the Honourable Kevin O’Brien, Minister of Municipal Affairs. The proposed new civic building in Grand Falls-Windsor will be approximately 20,000 square feet and will be home to several community groups. The total project cost is estimated to be $6.2 million, with the Provincial Government providing 70 per cent of the total cost. The building will be located on the former Co-Op site on High Street.  

Well let me see now. Talk and development of this Civic/Arts Building has been on going for close on four years with Council. Why is there a need now to object to its development and detailed planning is close to be finished this fall and construction beginning in early spring. As much as I hate to say it the building is needed in a bad enough way for The Heritage Society , The Family Tree and CANVAS. You go visit the heritage society and most things are in boxes because of lack of space. Councillor Finn talks about the   SPCA, and the Y2C (Youth 2,000 Centre) are all in old buildings that need repairs. These are community groups that are based in our community, that their mandates are only this community — those are the groups we should be serving," he said.

Yes but where in a building of this type are you going to put an SPCA or a Youth Center.
Growing up you would often hear, " Tory Times Were Hard Times". My Grandfather Lynch who is now dead 16 years would now be 116 years old. He was 99 years old when he died and a great Tory at that. He was a common man who came to Grand Falls to work for the A.N.D. Company and raised a big family in the former town of Windsor. So if Tory times were so hard why did a commoner like him vote Tory all of his life. Looking back in history at the Prime Ministers from both Tory's and Liberals here is what you will find. Liberals Laurier and St. Laurent both preside over periods of economic boom the Wheat Boom and the Post-War boom while Mackenzie-King (1935-48) had a term that includes a world war. Put a Conservative in power during a boom period or a war and they also would do well. Conservatives do appear to have had a knack for being in power during periods of severe economic hardship, particularly the Great Depression of the 1930s as well as the severe recessions of 1920-21 and 1926. Mackenzie-King’s second term from 1926-30 coincides with the debut of the Great Depression. When Liberal prime ministers are caught smack in the middle of a depression, they also show declines in real per capita output as in the case of Alexander McKenzie who was prime minister from 1873 to 1878, an era that until the 1930s was also viewed as a Great Depression. Had he remained in power for the 1930 to 1935 period, it is likely the growth of the World War II period would have been associated with a Conservative Prime Minister. In politics, timing is everything. Source: Worthwhile Canadian Initiative A mainly Canadian economics blog
Now back to the modern days of Tory Times Are Hard Times. Now where shall I start? Well now let me see now. The Liberals Governed Newfoundland and Labrador for 23 years starting in 1949-1972. One would think that we would have evolved into some kind of economic success story with Come By Chance , Boot Factories, The Upper Churchill Hydro Development and so on. No by golly we were economic broke incurring debt for a longtime. Granted we were getting schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure built by the Government of Canada given as part of Confederation. Let us not forget who built the Grand Falls-Windsor Hospital- our parents and grandparents who worked at the Mill. If I am not mistaken we gave control of our greatest resource the fishery at the time to the Government of Canada . We would soon findout there were more boats on the banks then ours.

Reflections of Windsor 1938 - 2013