On one of my trips into St. John's I encountered the Rev. Newton Steacy and was surprised to learn that he had left the ministry and had joined the Federal Civil Service. Sometime later I went to Halifax for a reading week at Pine Hill - the Maritime United Church of Canada seminary. While on the return flight to St. John's my seat companion was Newton Steacy. He and his family were living in Ottawa and were attending Westboro United Church. The assistant minister had left and Dr. Dan Matheson - the senior pastor - was looking for a replacement. Would I be interested?
I was flabbergasted but replied, "Yes!" A short time later I was flown to Ottawa to spend a few days with the Mathesons and at Westboro United. I was very impressed and, fortunately, so were they by me!
Before leaving the topic of Bell Island and Newfoundland, there are a few more remarks that I want to make. Yes - there were cultural differences - some of which were huge - but I did like the people whom I had met.
As readers may have guessed, I had my differences with 'Uncle George' Normore but, when he passed some months after I left, I received a telegram from his widow telling me of his passing. I was saddened.
Newfoundland must have the most unusual place names of anywhere. For instance, the village a few miles north of Portugal Cove - still on the shore of Conception Bay - is Pouch (pronounced locally as 'Pooch') Cove. Around Conception Bay on the other side are Harbour Grace and, nearby, are Hearts Delight, Hearts Content and Hearts Desire. Further north are Joe Batt's Arm and, where the refinery is located, is Come-by-Chance. One of my classmates spent a year or two at Nippers Harbour up in the Baie Verte area.
I visited Doug and his family up there and was given a tour. We saw a huge iceberg beached a couple of hundred yards from the highway along the shore. Also, Doug took me to the Parish Cemetery - a rectangular plot of land. He pointed out the fence which surrounded it and how, at one point, the fence jogged around one grave and then returned to the original alignment. That was the grave of a young man who had committed suicide. At the time of the incident it was thought to be a mortal sin to take one's own life so he was not allowed to be buried beside his family. Fortunately, at some later date, better thinking allowed them to realign the fence to allow his remains to lie within the hallowed grounds.
On the Monday of the Victoria Day weekend a friend and I went for a long drive. We drove northwest up the Trans Canada Highway to the junction of the highway leading down to the Burin Peninsula and the other ferry landing for boats from North Sydney. From there we drove towards St Pierre and Miquelon (the French prefectures remaining within Canadian territorial waters - that gave France the privilege of fishing for cod in our waters). From there we continued east and then north past Cape St Mary's ("Fishing off Cape St Mary's" is a popular Newfoundland folk song), up past Cape Race - the most easterly point in continental North America - and back to St John's.
What do I remember best about that trip? It was on the weekend called "The Widow's Holiday" as it marks the opening of fishing season for trout in the ponds - and it was cloudy and cool with intermittent showers.
The Reading Week at Pine Hill was almost canceled for me because of the amount of 'slob ice' clogging Conception Bay barring me from access to St John's Airport. Fortunately, the ice between Bell Island and the south shore was not as thick so someone ferried me to one of the communities over there from where I was able to get a ride around to the airport.
Once I was on the mainland fog rolled in and I became stranded in Halifax for the better part of the week. I filled my time by sightseeing and going to movies. One of the films that I saw while I was there was Franco Zeffirelli's "Brother Son, Sister Moon" which is now in my DVD collection.
After my conversation with Newton Steacy I was invited to fly to Ottawa for a few days where I visited with the Mathesons and saw the church. Soon after I returned to Bell Island I received word that I was being 'called' there so I began making arrangements for the move. That meant saying 'Good-bye' to a lot of people who were surprised and shocked that I was leaving.
I drove to Placentia and took the longer ferry ride from there to North Sydney and drove to Ottawa. This time I went via the most direct route so I visited Fredericton - the Capital of New Brunswick - for the first time.
I stopped briefly in Ottawa and then continued on home for a visit with Mom, Dan and others then returned to take up my new duties.