Monday, September 14, 2015

Placentia Bay 2015: A short paddle ends in St. Leonard's

Monday morning, our third day in Placentia Bay had a fall feel to it as we decamped at Clattice Harbour.  The forecast was for strengthening SW winds but in the harbour it was calm as ...

... exited Northwest Arm to make our way towards the former community of Clattice South West two kilometers away.

It was still calm just around Clattice Harbour Head but where the coast turned southwest we felt the wind as we padded in the direction of St Leonard's.

At St. Leonard's Dean got out, we followed and discussed the plan going forwards.  Here in Oliver Cove the water was calm protected by the land.  Further along the shore where it was fully exposed to the wind and unlimited fetch it would be a slog to paddle to St. Kyran's.  So, after a short paddle of 10 kilometers the group decided to call it a day and wait out the wind.

I immediately scouted the ground for a place to pitch my tent.  Anywhere under the hill was good.  I settled on a place near the beach making for a short carry of my gear.

I had a little walkabout, here looking back on our well protected campsite at St. Leonard's.  The site of the former community was still open grassland.

These are the only remains of the only house that appears to have been left behind.

Now, I'm have a big interest in Newfoundland's resettled communities.  A favourite book of mine is one by Scott Walden entitled "Places Lost - In Search of Newfoundland's Resettled Communities".  The author visited St. Leonard's in 1998 when this structure was still standing and it is pictured on page 36.  Its interesting to see what the original looked like before it succumbed to nature.

As we got into camp early, we had time to go for a walk.  The one thing I wanted to see on this trip was the old stone church between St. Leonard's and St. Kyrans.  We found the trail between the two former communities and before we entered the woods we spotted the remnants of what was a shed of some sort, it not being large enough for a house.

Mr. Walden describes his search for the trail to the church in his book.  We had an easier go of it as the trail was open, following the old road between the tow communities.  We marveled about the amount of work in the construction of the road.  On one side it was built up behind rock walls where necessary and on the uphill side it was ditched to carry away water, all done by hand, pick and shovel.

After a walk of about 1 kilometer we saw the first hint we were close.  It was the church graveyard.  Here lies Laura Flynn, born in and a resident of St. Ann's.  St. Ann's (we would visit by kayak the next day) was a community of 79 souls in 20 households approximately 4 kms away as the crow flies.  Her remains would have had to have been moved by boat 3 kms and carried overland a further kilometer.

She is listed in the 1921 census as born in 1892; laid to rest here in 1948 at the age of 55.  I wondered about her life and existence so, a little exploring.  She was married and 28 at the time of the 1921 census, living with her husband, likely in the house of her mother-in-law as the three were listed as one household.  By the 1935 census she was the mother of two daughters and one son  The 1945 census shows one daughter still living home.  Three years later she lay here.  Why would I care?  I don't know but I do.

Here lies Annie Sullivan of St. Leonard's and school teacher in St. Kyran's for forty years.  Next to her appears to be her nephew Thomas, deceased at the age of 18 1/2 years in 1926 while attending St. Bonaventure's College in St. John's.  The census of 1921 lists a Thomas, son of  Pat and Bride Sullivan and of the right age, then 12 years old.

A wire and concrete enclosure surrounds the grave of Garrett Hickey, born in 1872 in St. Kyran's I believe.  The census records are not clear and as to which individual may be buried here.  In any case, his tombstone reads "beloved husband and father".

Nearby we walked around in amazement at the old stone church, more on that next time, but I'll continue the day's story ...

... back at St. Leonard's where it was pleasant though overhead the clouds scurried by at a good clip.  Terry cooked pea soup whereas ...

... I made crab cakes for supper over an open fire.  Normally I feel hurried to cook supper and so the fuel stove works faster.  I had lots of time on this day to use an more old fashioned method.

After supper we started the campfire.  Someone threw on their rocking horse.

Basking in the warm glow of the fire at the end of the day.  We went to bed unsure of the next day's plans.  Those decisions would have to wait till the morning.

And the track for the day though it is short:


  1. Tony,
    This is an incredible blog of a great excursion! The lives of the people are very moving, as is your interest to research them.

  2. Thanks Cathy, it was on my list of places to visit for a while and it di not disappoint.