Tag Archives: Newfoundland

What’s in a Name?

Family history

Of many sane and sensible answers to that oft-quoted query, one that seldom appears but in my view rates highlighting is HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT!

Immediate cause of this mini-rant is the irritating frequency of hearing my surname uttered as  WAY-DEN – rather than its common rendering as WAD-DEN,  rhyming with sodden, or Godden or, if you like,  Culloden.  

Bringing up this minor grievance just now stems from the recent release in Ottawa of the booklet, The Waddens: A Family History, co-authored by me and my late brother Brian Wadden of St. John’s, Newfoundland.   While delving into many aspects of family background, including the various ways in which the family name has been spelled, we never got around to describing how it is pronounced.  There never was a pronunciation problem in Newfoundland or Nova Scotia, where families of this name are not uncommon, but in Ottawa this wayward take on the name does abound.  Maybe it is an Ottawa Valley thing!

Telling the story of one Irish family’s migration to Newfoundland in the 1830s, well before the Famine, this little booklet touches on a few surprises found in digital parish records. Family origins are traced to Norman and Flemish invaders of Ireland more than eight centuries ago. Descendants remain in Newfoundland but many more are scattered throughout North America.

A few pictures help to identify some key individuals in family development.

Copies of The Waddens: A Family History may be ordered by contacting nix.wadden@sympatico.ca

An Irish Based Family Story

With Paddy’s Day fast approaching, images of old Ireland come readily to mind in announcing the launch of a small booklet tracing the old world origins of the Wadden family of Newfoundland. Entitled The Waddens: A Family History, its scope ranges from the Norman invaders of Britain and Ireland to far flung descendants throughout North America. The 86-page booklet, including family photos in both colour and black and white, is co-authored by Nix Wadden and his late brother, Brian, upon whose extensive research most of the content is based.

Their great grandfather Nicholas Wadden and several siblings emigrated from Ballynaboola in the New Ross area in southwest Ireland to Newfoundland in 1830. One brother moved on to found a widespread family branch in New England. Another Nicholas from New Ross later settled in the U.S. Midwest. Studies of digitized family records in Ireland produced positive results, along with some surprises, welcome and otherwise.

Visiting a modern Wadden family add a fresh perspective, while extracts from an historic text recounts the rise and fall of distinguished ancestors in the Norman Wadding family.  Rounding out the content is the story of Wadden families in Cape Breton, probing the mystery of its founding by a young Newfoundlander.

Produced by Allegra Printing in Ottawa and self-published, copies of The Waddens: A Family History may be purchased at $20 plus 2.50 for mailing by contacting nix.wadden@sympatico.ca

A Newfoundland Nurse in World War One

Alice Fitzgerald (top rrow) on nursing duty in France

Alice Fitzgerald (top row) on nursing duty in France

An intriguing photo of a Newfoundland nurse who served in the First World War is tormenting me because I can’t seem to find any details of her story. What I do know is that she was my Aunt Alice, my mother’s oldest sister, but I only saw her once when I was seven years old. In the photo above, she is in the top row among soldiers resting within the ruins of a war damaged stone wall, apparently somwhere in France.

Alice M. Fitzgerald was born in St. John’s March 22, 1885, the oldest daughter of William B. and Katherine (Hagan) Fitzgerald. Thus she would have been between 29 and 33 years old during the First World War. All that I have been able to confirm about her World War 1 nursing career is that she is listed in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment as a nurse from St. John’s but with no further information recorded. According to a heritage Nfld. account of Newfoundland and Labrador’s WW1 service, there were about 175 women who served overseas as graduate nurses or with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) – a corps of semi-trained nurses. So she was most likely one of those graduate nurses.

Alice Fitzgerald (from family Portrait)

Alice Fitzgerald (from famiy porrtrait)

After the war, Alice Fitzgerald married another Newfoundlander, Norbert Burke Dec 18, 1918, at St. Joseph’s Church, presumably in St. John’s.

They settled in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where Norbert worked with Nova Scotia Steel Company, and raised one daughter, Frances.

Norbert Burke’s family lived in St. Jacques, Fortune Bay, and he too served in the war overseas, one of four brothers who volunteered for active service.

One of them, Leonard, was seriously wounded in the Battle of Cambrai. His other brothers also survived the war – Dr. John Burke conducted a dentistry practice in St. John’s, while Dr. Vincent P. Burke, had a distinguished career in Newfoundand education, and as a member of the Canadian Senate.

Alice Fitzgerald Burke died in North Sydney March 21, 1947 at the age of 62. Her daughter Frances, who married Jerome Rabnett and lived in Belleville, Ont., passed away in 1998.

 

 

Newfoundland Stamps Lost and Found

I thought I had long ago lost all of my Newfoundland stamp collection when someone at home unwittingly threw them out while I was away at university. It was a big one – more than 5,000 stamps in all. That was a long time ago – about 1952, three years after Newfoundland became, controversially enough, a province of Canada.

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

And that was why the monetary value of Newfoundland stamps had escalated because no more were ever to be produced.

Image then my surprise when a couple of hundred of them showed up again a few months ago – 65 years later! I discovered them while clearing out some old boxes containing long discarded memorabilia accumulated over the years and all but forgotten.

King George V

King George V

Easy to miss, because the stamps were wrapped in tiny bundles enclosed by golden hued sewing thread – a method of postage stamp husbandry that would justifiably horrify philately purists in any era. But they did keep them together and in reasonably good shape.

Pity it is that these remnants from the past include only some of the most common low-denomination stamps. Survivor sets consist of 118 grey 1-cent stamps depicting codfish dubbed “Newfoundland currency”, and 100 green 2-cent stamps depicting King George V, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth. Current values except for those in mint condition – which these are certainly not – appear to be minimal.

Codfish: Newoundland currency

Codfish:
Newfoundland currency

My stamp collecting methods were entirely simple and downright crude, soaking stamps from envelopes and bundling them in sets as needed and placing them in envelopes or even Eddy’s match boxes, and keeping them together in larger cardboard boxes which I stored on bedroom cupboard shelves. I recall one of my favourites, a Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box in a design still to be found on store shelves today. Others I liked to use were fancily packaged boxes for cigars my Dad used to smoke.

What I was careful about was in counting all my stamps and marking down the numbers and the places they came from. The listing shown below was hand written in pencil on a note pad sheet dated November 1943, supplied by a venerable St. John’s printer, Dicks and Company. I probably wrote the list in the late ’40s before going away to St. F.X. University in Nova Scotia. It spelled out my complete Newfoundland stamp holdings:

1,394 2-cents, 1,129 3-cents, 1,090 4-cents, 781 1-cent, 426 5-cents, 199 10-cents, 151 8-cents, 54 7-cents, 18 4-cents, 15 15-cents, nine 20-cents, nine 25-cents, two 24-cents, two 9-cents and one 28-cents, for a total of 5,280.

As recounted in my 2015 Gower Street memoir, I wrote about my stamp collecting hobby in The Sentinel, a 1944 grade eight newspaper. I don’t really recall how or why I got interested in stamps, but it probably grew from awareness that Newfoundland stamps were rather unique because we were a small country which produced quite a lot of attractive stamp designs.

Caribou Symbol of Newfoundland Regiment

Caribou
Symbol of Newfounland Regiment

As comprehensively detailed by Memorial University of Newfoundland professor, Dr. Thomas F. Nemec, some 300 different postage stamps were issued by the Newfoundland Post Office between January 1, 1857 and June 24, 1947. Interestingly enough, because they were not demonetized, Newfoundland stamps can still be used legally on mail posted in Canada.