Letters from our Readers
More Alphabet Fleet Memories
I am responding to an invitation in the March 2008 issue of Downhome to submit my story about the Alphabet Fleet. My earliest travel on one of Newfoundland's famous coastal boats was during the last week of August 1946. The Clyde (pictured right) was tied up at the loading pier in Lewisporte, busily taking on freight and passengers for its regular south-side run of Notre Dame Bay. It was early morning, the sun was just over the horizon as the branch train from Notre Dame Junction screeched and squealed to a stop, just a couple hundred yards up from the long wharf, near Manuel's Hotel, and the tracks leading back to the station.
Lewisporte was the gateway to every community on both sides of Notre Dame Bay; the Notre Dame Branch train connected with westbound and eastbound overland trains, from St. John's and Port aux Basques. Passengers, mail and freight of every sort were funnelled aboard the Clyde for the ship's weekly runs between Shoe Cove and Cape John in the north, and Change Islands, Fogo Island, and Port Albert on the south side of the Bay. The Clyde was the workhorse of Notre Dame Bay, every day of the week from the beginning of May to the end of December, and Captain Elliott of the Clyde was undoubtedly the best-known man in Notre Dame Bay.
Confederation with Canada brought sweeping changes to life in Newfoundland. I made four trips around the south side of Notre Dame Bay on the Clyde in its final years; then in the spring of 1948 a brand new ship, the Springdale, was introduced to the Notre Dame Bay run. Its sister ship, the Bonavista, was assigned the Placentia Bay run. I made my first trip on the new ship from Lewisporte enroute to Pilley's Island on August 29, 1948 - a fine Sunday morning. Church bells were ringing when the Springdale dropped anchor in the stream at Exploits. The Springdale was in use for only a couple years before being replaced by a much smaller wooden ship, the Codroy - one of the "Clarenville" boats. New roads and trucks began to replace the coastal boats' workloads in many areas. It was a time of changes in transportation around the island of Newfoundland.
Times certainly have changed since Reid's Alphabet Fleet plied the coastal routes of Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you for sharing your memories of trips of the Clyde, Domino. Click here to read other readers' memories of the Alphabet Fleet.
A Positive I.D.
Hello Downhome staff; I was surprised to see a picture of my mother in your August 2008 issue. Mom is the girl on the top right of the "On the Mend" photo ("Reminiscing," page 116). She was 11 years old at the time and spent nine months in the sanitorium. Her name is Susie Gillam (nee Lundrigan) and she is from Whitbourne, Newfoundland. She is now a mother of three and a grandmother of four.
Tavistock, Ontario (formerly of Whitbourne, NL)
Thank you, Tammy, for writing to identify your mother.
Helping our Furry Friends in Burin
The Burin Peninsula SPCA is in danger of closing. We are badly in need of financial assistance in order to continue helping abandoned, abused and unwanted animals across the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland. Our shelter is run by a small group of dedicated volunteers and our services cover more than 30,000 people living within a 200 km radius. Currently, our organization does not receive any funding from any level of the Government of Newfoundland; every dollar we have to offset our monthly operating costs (approx. $3,200) comes from our fundraising efforts.
The fact that many people have no choice but to leave the Burin Peninsula to obtain employment in Alberta has affected us on many levels. Most people cannot take their pets with them, so they come to Burin SPCA. The reality is that with so many residents leaving there are fewer people to adopt the animals that are left behind, so we are faced with making serious decisions about what we do with the animals in our care - with many new animals flowing into the shelter each day.
The services we provide are badly needed and reach into many communities on the Burin Peninsula. We answer complaint calls and find ourselves travelling all over the peninsula at our own expense to investigate an abandoned animal or a case of alleged animal cruelty or abuse. We are often asked by the RCMP or the Department of Social Services to investigate such situations again at our own expense. We have reached a breaking point where soon, we will not have enough funds to keep the shelter open.
We are proud of our clean shelter building and dog runs, which is a testament to the hard work, money and volunteer hours that have been invested. The cost of keeping the shelter warm and clean, especially over winter, added to the cost of insurance, telephone, veterinary charges, pet food, kitty litter, cleaning materials and laundry detergent, etc., causes many a sleepless night. Even cutting back in every way we can, we are seriously concerned that we will be unable to continue operating much longer.
We are writing this appeal in hopes of finding corporate sponsorship to keep our doors open so we can continue providing this valuable service to the people of the Burin Peninsula. We have all financial records in order to support our request for financial assistance.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador
Downhome is publishing your letter, Pauline, in hopes that the Burin SPCA will indeed find the necessary financial support to stay open. Those who want to help may contact the shelter at (709) 891-8000 and www.burinspca.com, or contact Pauline Beazley at (709) 891-2024 and firstname.lastname@example.org.