We went for a walk with our granddaughter and her dog on her sleigh in Rock Harbour. When we got so far around, Hailey wanted the dog to tow her on the sleigh so I tied the dog to the sleigh and off they went with me on ahead of them. She had a ball. Take care, be safe my friends.
Nurse Myra Bennett as told by daughter Grace Written by Grace E. Abelseth (nee Bennett/Benoit) born August 27, 1923
I need to say something about my parents. Dad was the eldest of 12 and at a very early age he had to go with my Grandfather to hunt and fish, to provide food for the family. He was of French descent, and named Benoit. The Benoits came from France and settled in Nova Scotia. Some of them went to Newfoundland, others went ... click to read moreWritten by Grace E. Abelseth (nee Bennett/Benoit) born August 27, 1923
I need to say something about my parents. Dad was the eldest of 12 and at a very early age he had to go with my Grandfather to hunt and fish, to provide food for the family. He was of French descent, and named Benoit. The Benoits came from France and settled in Nova Scotia. Some of them went to Newfoundland, others went to USA and some of them stayed in Nova Scotia and were known as The Acadians. Some of those who went to Newfoundland were denied fishing rights by the English if they had a French name, so the name was changed to Bennett.
When Dad was 16 he joined a ship from Halifax, who happened to be in Daniels Harbour, as a cabin boy. Later he became first mate and when the cook quit he became the cook. They sailed to the Netherlands, Barbados and Trinidad carrying rum and "pitch" for road repairs. When the war broke out in 1914 Dad joined the Merchant Marine and carried food and other supplies to Europe. It was many years later that the Merchant Navy were recognized for the contribution they had made to the war effort in the first World War and the second World War.
The first World War ended in 1918 and many Newfoundlanders were killed. Dad came back to Daniels Harbour and his father and uncle helped him to build a house. He had seen a house in Halifax with four bay windows on the front, one for the dining room and one for the living room and two upstairs for the bedrooms.
He had to go into the woods, chop down the trees, and saw the lumber in the saw mill and using an ox and sleigh haul it out to the site in which he was doing the building. He had put a verandah on the back, it had four bedrooms, a bathroom, a place for linen, and two clothes closets. There was a space for a bathroom but indoor plumbing wasn't used in Daniels Harbour, that would come later. large kitchen and a pantry was built and in the pantry he found a running spring. What a find!!! We had fresh water without going to the well under the hill to bring buckets back to the house. He put a pump in and it served us very well.
In the meantime a nurse was recruited in England and she set sail on April 13 (Friday) 192. Rev Greavett was consulted as to the best place to have her stationed. He decided Daniels Harbour would be the place as she was mid way in the district she was to serve. After sailing from Liverpool England she arrived in St Johns Newfoundland. She had an introduction to Dr Fisher who was practicing in Corner Brook and used to go on his rounds with him while she was awaiting the ice to clear so she could get to Daniels Harbour. She eventually sailed on the S S Home, a distance of 120 miles, and it was March 27th before she reached Daniels Harbour.
Everybody was on the beach when the steamer arrived to get a look at this strange nurse. She boarded with Mr and Mrs Moss. Mr Moss was the local school teacher. They turned their dining room over to her for a clinic, and their kitchen was used as a waiting room. Mrs Moss used to serve tea for those waiting to see Nurse Grimsley.
My Mother was born in England. She had five brothers. Two sisters had died in infancy. My grandmother was very kind to her neighbours, often bringing them in to her dining room if they had very little to eat. Mum used to tell the story of a small girl who came knocking at the Grimsley's door and said her mother was sick. Her father was out trying to get a job. When my Grandmother went to her home to investigate she found her neighbour about to deliver a baby. Mum and her brothers had just sat down to Christmas dinner, she brought the other children home and had her children leave the table to allow the other children to enjoy the dinner.
Mum was 14 when she went to work for a Jewish tailor, making men's suits by hand. She worked 14 hours a day and turned her money over to her mother. She could have taken the tram to and from work but she preferred to walk, and besides the tram costs money. She learned to speak Yiddish by listening to her employers.
She decided to finish her education and to go in training for a nurse and midwife. She applied for a position in Saskatchewan after working for ten years in England. The war had just ended so shipping was at a premium, the soldiers were just returning with their brides, to Canada. To fill in the time Mum decided to take a course in Instrument delivery and anaesthesia. She studied under the well known Dr Annie McCall. Meantime the governor's wife from Newfoundland was in England to recruit nurses, Mum was approached and went on a two year contract. She sailed On Friday April 13th 1921.
Her first delivery was for a Mrs Benoit and that's where she met our Dad. They started to see each other and on January 26th 1922 they were married. Navigation was not open, there was no way to get a ring so my Grandmother's ring was used. Granny put on a small reception for them, and they moved into a small house on the hill overlooking the house Dad was building. Rev Greavet married them and he said to Mum 'I'm coming to your house for Sunday dinner any time that I'm in Daniels Harbour; Mum said "You would be more than welcome if you don't mind eating out of tin cans"!
Granny fixed them up with bedding and dishes. I was born on August 27th 1923, my brother was born September 3rd 1926, and my sister was born June 24th 1930. The baby who was her first delivery is called Aunt Margaret the only remaining sibling of my Dads family. She was born on August 12th 1921.
A short time after my parents were married Dad arrived home bringing a young lad with him. His mother had died and no one seemed to care what happened to him. Dad said to Mum "look what I brought you" He had walked many miles along the coast because he had heard about Mum and was sure that she would take him in. Dad cut his hair, Mum prepared a bath for him, his clothes went into the stove, and Mum went to the store to get flannelette for pyjamas, and of course he was fed. He fell asleep on the day bed in the kitchen and when Dad got up in the morning he was crying. Dad wanted to know what he was crying about and he said "I thought I had died and gone to Heaven". Poor lad.
When Mum came to Daniels Harbour there was no organ in the church. She got busy and taught the children to sing and act and put on little concerts until she had enough to buy an organ. She played that organ for 50 years, but there came a time when she was unable to walk up the hill because of breathlessness. The old church next to the cemetery in the middle of the village caught on fire and nothing was saved except the organ. They used the school for the worship services until the new church was built, and it happened to be built next to the school up a steep hill.
The lad that I talked about in another paragraph, left our home while Mum was in Corner Brook having me. She was heart broken, they had planned to adopt him. He kept in touch however; He went to live with a Salvation Army Brigadier and had a good home and a religious upbringing. When he grew up he married a nurse and they had a family, but he never forgot what my parents had done for him. He used to come for holidays in Daniels Harbour, bringing his wife and all the children to visit Mum and Dad. I sat beside him at St Clares Hospital on one of my visits to St Johns, when he was dying of cancer. He was quite lucid and told me how he used to hand the boards up to Dad when he was building the house.
I have already mentioned the mother and child that my Mum brought back from England because she had no place to go except in the poor house. She came to live with us, and looked after us when my mother went on a case that required her attention. She later married and moved to St Johns, but Mum kept in touch and used to send her clothing, and she and Dad visited her home whenever they were in St Johns.
My Mum learned to card and spin wool, to hook mats, to clean lamps, to make soap and cook like a Newfoundlander! She made all our clothes, knitted our socks and mitts, and skin boots. The skin boots were made of tanned seals skin and they were a work of art with pleats at the heal and toe and fastened with a coloured woven cloth, the same size as a ribbon. They were so warm and comfortable with two or three pairs of socks, and a favourite for doing the set and eight and thread the needle, those were the only dances that we knew. Rufus Guinchard was in his glory playing the fiddle.
My Mum also did the books for Dad's store. Everything was charged and Dad would take lumber or fish in payment. If some of the men couldn't pay, Dad would supply them with groceries at no charge. Then the depression was in evidence and Dad was requested by the Government to hand out the "dole". He put the men to work clearing land and building a road, and gave them extra groceries in payment. Through all this activity Mum carried out her duty as the only medical help, with a district of 200 miles from Port aux Choix to Sally's Cove. She delivered all the babies, extracted teeth, was the school nurse, and visited the elderly and patients who were dying .I've often seen her carry, in her basket, soups and jello to a patient. During the depression she worked for no pay and my Dad supplied the medicines, the dressings and bandages, and plaster of Paris. This went on for eleven years.
Three of my mother's brothers went to Australia and during World War 1 they joined the Australian Army. One brother aged 19 led the battalion at Gallipoli and was killed by a sniper. His name is on the list of war dead at Canberra, NSW, Australia.
Another brother aged 16, he lied about his age, got a bullet in his leg. He spent some time in the hospital and the doctors wanted to amputate, he said NO. After the war the 16 year old, as time went on, married an Australian and was able to set up a sheep farm. In 1928 a girl was born. During the Depression he lost the farm and Dad paid his, his wife and child's way to Daniels Harbour to live with us. Dad built a shed for him to do carpentry and set him up to raise pigs. The dining room chairs that are in the Heritage House are the ones that Uncle Ed made.
The third brother married an Australian girl and they had four children. I have kept in touch with my first cousins and their children and grandchildren, in fact my sister and I went to Australia in 1994 to meet them.