Isobel’s Journey Through Newfoundland, 1915

In June, 1915, at Humbermouth, Newfoundland, after an eight hour train ride, my grandmother, Isobel Millen, boarded “The Meigle,” for L’Anse au Loup, Labrador. On the way, they visited Bonne Bay, Newfoundland and Flower’s Cove, and then at Bonne Esperance, Quebec, they anchored on account of the fog.

Here are some excerpts from her journal:

Thursday AM June 17, 1915    Expenses: 6 eggs 10¢

We are tied up at Bonne Bay. It is the biggest place on the West coast of Newfoundland. We took a walk around the place and saw no less than three stores and one being built. The mountains rise high on all sides of the bay and it really is a beautiful spot. Just now the fog is drifting in and a wind springing up. Mrs. Wakefield fears it will be too thick for us to go on our way. We saw quite a number of fish flakes, but they were too well-built to be interesting. This is really a prosperous place – there are any number of wharves and two school-houses.

It is so odd for we Montrealers to speak English to all classes. At first I unconsciously waited for their “Je ne parles pas Anglais. Allie has just resurrected some deck chairs and we are going out to sit in the mist.

Isobel in front

My first glimpse of whales. Three of them were sporting among little bits of ice. Floating around now. This afternoon we went ashore with Parson Richards. (Flower Cove) He wanted Mrs. Wakefield to see Mr. Williams who was ill and we jumped at the chance to go with her. I had been wanting to go down the ship’s ladder anyway. We jumped into a wet fishing boat with four fishermen who rowed us ashore. Allie and I went quite daft over the sea-weed, the shells, the darling flowers we found on the seashore. It took us quite a puffing fifteen minutes to catch up with Mrs. Wakefield and the Parson who were far ahead on the springy bog.

Reverend Richards on the right-Flower’s Cove

Quite a picture the Meigle made, about thirty boats of all sorts, colours and sizes tied to her sides, while their picturesque owners loaded the freight. Such jabbering too! I loved the bustle of it. Just now we are steaming across the straits and will probably make Forteau to-morrow morning. I hope no earlier. It would be awkward to land in the middle of a foggy night.

 The Meigle

The steward was funnier than usual to-day. The stewardess told me he has just one more trip to make, all on account of his drunkenness. So I suppose that with nothing to hold him back that is why he is so bad this trip. He certainly is funny, you can’t help but laugh when he leans amorously over your shoulder to whisperingly inquire if you will take tea. He staggers too, and wears his hat at a tipsy angle. I don’t know if I ought to like him but I do. Oo-ee there are heaps of whales – everywhere you can see them rising. Oh we are going through the most wonderful field of broken ice, blue and green and white pieces, worn by the waves into the most wonderful shapes. The colours! The shapes! It is gloriously wonderful.

Isobel on the right

We have just had such fun. A young and good-looking English church parson has gone. (We are anchored at Bonne Esperance on account of the fog) He had heard of Mrs. Wakefield so introduced himself to us as Hr. Hubbard. He was the first man we had set eyes on and was good fun so you can imagine, we rather enjoyed ourselves. A parson in Carrigans, breeches and leather coat with only the collar and vest of his calling is rather amusing. He may come up to L’Anse au Loup. That would be fun. Did you ever see a lone man deprived of women of his own kind. Did you ever see three girls who have not met a decent man for a week. Did you ever see such a combination meet. Well it met tonight and we have giggled ever since.

This could be Mr. Hubbard but there’s no caption

We went up on the Captain’s bridge to-night and watched the boat being guided through the fog and the mist. It was very interesting. Item Ship ‘o Log. The steward did not appear for supper, overcome at last. (He is being dismissed so he is quite incorrigible.)

Next stop: Forteau and Sister Bailey

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