Project Canterbury

Church in the Colonies.
No. XV.

Diocese of Newfoundland.
Part II.

A Journal of the Bishop’s Visitation of the Missions of the Northern Coast,
In the Summer of 1846.
[By Bishop Edward Feild]

London: The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, November, 1846.


THE Bishop sailed in the Church-ship early on Friday Morning, the 10th July. The first place of call was Bay-de-Verde, where a newly ordained Missionary, the Rev. J. Roberts, was landed. This place and the neighbouring settlement of Grates Cove, each having a church, but forming together one mission, though upwards of eight miles apart, had unhappily been left without a clergyman nearly nine months. It is entirely owing to the liberality of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel that this benefit has been restored to the poor inhabitants; may it be permanent! The wind being fair for the northward the Bishop did not land, but proceeded to Catalina, and entered the harbour about six o'clock in the evening. Mr. Bremner immediately greeted the Church-ship by hoisting his flag, and kindly sent on board to offer his services. Notice of the Bishop's arrival was sent over land to Bonavista, a distance of ten miles.

Early on the following morning the Rev. T. M. Wood arrived from Bonavista, and this day (July 11th) was spent in arranging for the services of confirmation here and at Bonavista, in visiting some of the inhabitants, and in walking to Little Cataliria—a small settlement two miles distant from the larger harbour of that name. Great Catalina is increasing in numbers of inhabitants and in importance, and more rapidly of late in consequence of the road formed between it and Bonavista. It is much to be regretted that the church should only be served by a clergyman, who, during the week, is engaged as schoolmaster at Bonavista. The church, which was consecrated by Bishop Inglis, much requires enlargement.

Mr. Netten, the missionary of this settlement, arrived in the evening, and Mr. Wood returned to his proper duties at Bonavista.

On Sunday, the 12th, the Bishop went on shore to examine the Sunday school, which is well conducted under the direction of the Rev. W. Netten, assisted by Mr. Cram, the Board schoolmaster. The room, however, is constructed only of upright studs, without ceiling or clapboard, so that the "winter's flaw" must enter on every side, and the snow drive quite through. Here, notwithstanding, were collected forty-two well-dressed and intelligent children, who satisfied the Bishop by their answers to his questions that they were not left in ignorance of those things which "a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul's health." At the morning service the Bishop, assisted by two deacons, administered the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and at the afternoon service held a Confirmation. The church was quite full at each service, though the morning was wet. Much concern was expressed by the people that they could only enjoy the presence and services of their clergyman on the Sunday, and that on one Sunday in every month even that privilege is denied them. On Monday, the Bishop examined the children of the Board school, and received many visitors on board the church-ship.

Not meaning to confirm in Bonavista till the following Sunday, the Bishop passed over to Trinity, on Tuesday the 14th.

On Wednesday morning, the Bishop visited at their own houses several sick persons, and called at the Board school, and in the evening held a service in the church and preached. On Thursday the ship sailed for Bonavista, but between calms and headwinds could not reach Bonavista till the following morning. There was some question as to the safety of the roadstead, which is very open to the sea, but at this season of the year the risk is not great; and the Church-ship, though somewhat tossed, lay securely for three days and nights. The chief inconvenience consisted in returning from shore at night through the swell. On landing, the Bishop was met by the principal inhabitants, who attended him to the clergyman's house, where an address was presented, containing some very feeling allusions to the recent calamity in the capital, and expressive of the desire felt by the inhabitants to aid in the restoration of the mother church of the diocese. In the afternoon the Bishop carefully examined first the school of the Newfoundland School Society, under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Netten, a very complete establishment, and afterwards that under the Board of Education. It is to be regretted that these schools are so near together, as they thereby interfere considerably with each other. The Newfoundland school has been many years in operation, and of great benefit. The Board school has not been opened more than three or four years.

Saturday, the 18th.—Prayers in the church at nine o'clock. The Bishop walked over to Bird Island Cove, accompanied by the Rev. T. M. Wood and Rev. W. Netten, both of whom render gratuitous service there. Mr. Netten attends one Sunday in each month, and Mr. Wood administers occasionally the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and holds service one evening in the week. This harbour is only five miles from Bonavista, but the road or path lies through the wood nearly the whole way, and for full three miles you walk over boulders, so that the distance and labour are much increased. At this place is a small church consecrated by Bishop Inglis, but through the poverty of the people still unfinished.

On returning to Bonavista in the evening after prayers in the church, the Bishop addressed the candidates for confirmation. On Sunday the services were conducted as at Catalina, the Holy Communion in the morning, and the confirmation in the afternoon. The Bishop examined the children of the Sunday-school between the services.

Monday, July 20th.—After morning prayers in the church, when the Bishop made a parting address, the Ship sailed for King's Cove. The Rev. T. M. Wood was added to the party, having obtained leave of absence from his mission on account of ill health. They reached King's Cove in the afternoon, and were welcomed by a discharge of many guns from the shore.

On Tuesday morning, after prayers in the church, the Bishop examined the children of the Newfoundland school, and in the afternoon went round in a boat to the neighbouring settlement of Kiels. The welcome here was particularly hearty. The people were waiting on the little rocky knolls, and as soon as the Bishop landed, fired a round of musketry, and soon after repeated the salute.

The same demonstrations of respect attended his departure. The little church was crowded, and not lees than fifty-three ratified their baptismal vows, and were confirmed. The party walked back to King's Cove, and reached it about nine o'clock; the fishing-boat could not get back till one o'clock the next morning, the wind having died away. The walk was through many acres of the calmia in beautiful and luxuriant blossom. The road is merely an opening cut through the woods, and the marshy places covered with the corduroy or longers of the country.

Wednesday, July 22d.—Service commenced at ten o'clock, and after the confirmation the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered to twenty-eight communicants. The Bishop had intended to leave this afternoon for Salvage, but the weather became thick, and the wind ahead, and his departure was necessarily deferred, and happy was the disappointment, for during the night several boats arrived with candidates for confirmation, who had been unable to come before. The Bishop therefore consented to hold a second confirmation on Thursday, July 23, and thirteen young men had the privilege of receiving the Bishop's blessing and laying on of hands. The church was fully attended at each service. At noon the Church-ship got under way, and was saluted by repeated discharges of guns, and an old cannon, brought into requisition on this occasion after lying by for many years. They anchored for the night in Barrow Harbour. At seven o'clock on Friday morning, the Bishop started in an open boat for the harbour of Salvage, which was not thought commodious for the Church-ship. Several of the inhabitants of Barrow Harbour, and candidates for confirmation, went in the same boat. A salute was fired when the party landed at Salvage. The service commenced in the church soon after nine o'clock, and was well attended, though unfortunately many of the young men were absent at their fishing-grounds, or had gone across the bay. Thirty-five were confirmed. After the service the Bishop examined the children of the Newfoundland school, who are carefully instructed by Mr. Baggs. This young man also officiates as lay-reader in the absence of the Missionary (the Rev. B. Smith) who can of course only visit them occasionally and rarely. The distance from King's Cove is fifteen miles. In this mission are three churches, and six other stations at which the Missionary occasionally performs divine service and the other offices of the church.

The Church-ship appeared in the offing about twelve o'clock, and the party embarked, intending to proceed to Greenspond; but the wind came up from the N.E. and increased in the night to a gale. It continued to blow from the same quarter the next day (Saturday), and it was found impossible to make way against it. The ship therefore ran for Trinity and reached it in the afternoon. There were still many icebergs off the coast, but fortunately the weather was clear.

Sunday, July 26th.—The Bishop went in a boat to English Harbour in the morning and administered the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; in the afternoon he preached at Salmon Cove, and in the evening at Trinity. He was assisted in these services by the Rev.. Messrs. Wood, Smith, and Tremlett.

July 27th.—Sailed early for Greenspond and reached it within, a few miles the same day, but too late to enter the harbour. This was effected early on Tuesday morning.; It was found that the people were now so busily engaged in the fishery, which up to this time had been most unsuccessful, that they could not be assembled in the church for confirmation except on the Sundays. The Bishop there- II fore was content to examine the Newfoundland Society's school, which is one of the largest in the diocese, numbering upwards of 150 children in regular attendance. Nothing can be more appropriate than the situation of the church, parsonage-house, and school, in this settlement. Most kind and hospitable was the reception given to the Bishop. He remained there that evening and preached a sermon, but the next morning, finding the occupation still incessant on the fishing-grounds both day and night, he returned to St. John's. The wind was ahead the whole day, and they did not reach the Narrows till Friday, July 31.

The Bishop resumed his voyage of Visitation on Tuesday, Aug. 18th, attended by the Rev. J. P Harvey and Mr. Saunders of the Theological Institution. On Wednesday evening they were off Cape Freels, but the wind became adverse and blew strong, and they were driven far back; and passed this dangerous coast a second time during the night of Thursday. The wind then became light, and they were not in view of Twillingate till Saturday morning, and did not reach the harbour till that evening.

In consequence of the lateness of the Bishop's arrival, the candidates could not be notified in time for all to prepare and assemble the next day, as would have been desirable. The Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered at the morning service, and the Bishop preached both on that occasion and in the afternoon. The children of the Sunday-school were examined in the morning.

Monday, St. Bartholomew's day.—Service in the church at eleven o'clock. The Bishop went to the Newfoundland school on the south side in the afternoon.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25th, the Bishop gave much time to the examination of the school, which is also one of those supported by the Newfoundland School Society. On this day the Bishop was gratified by seeing two very handsome tablets, containing the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Commandments, set up at the east end of this noble church. The material is slate, and there is a substantial frame in good imitation of oak. This church, which was consecrated by the Bishop last year, has been furnished with excellent chandeliers and branches, and the zeal of the people for their house of prayer is very creditable.

Wednesday, Aug. 26th.—Service commenced at the usual time, and 76 candidates were confirmed. After the service some late additions to the churchyard were consecrated.

Thursday, Aug. 27th.—Sailed for Exploits-Burnt-Island, but the wind failed in the middle of the day, and we could not make farther than Moreton's Harbour. On the next morning the Bishop went in an open boat to Tizzard's Harbour, where the church was consecrated. The party walked back through the woods. The road is very wet in many places, but the day was happily very fine. They reached Moreton's Harbour by three o'clock, and at four o'clock, the new church of that settlement with the church-yard was consecrated. The Bishop confirmed also.

On Saturday, the Church-ship proceeded to Exploits-Burnt-Island. The evening of that day was spent in examining and preparing candidates for confirmation. Here a new church is in progress to replace one fallen into decay; but the total failure of the fishery this year will prevent the people proceeding with the work as they had desired and intended. Most of the inhabitants will remove into the woods in the winter.

Sunday, Aug. 30th.—The Bishop examined the Sunday school conducted by Mr. Downton, who is the teacher of the Board school, and officiates as reader. The Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered, as usual, in the morning, and the candidates confirmed in the afternoon. Seven or eight children, who had been privately baptized, were admitted into the Church. This island, with Moreton's Harbour and Tizzard's Harbour, and the whole of the Cape Shore, is in Mr. Sail's mission—far too much to be superintended with comfort or satisfaction by one clergyman. The extent can be little less than 100 miles of coast.

At four o'clock, on Monday morning, the ship left for Twillingate, but hardly reached the harbour by night-fall, in consequence of light winds. On Tuesday she had a fine run to Togo. In the evening of that day there was divine service, and the Bishop addressed the candidates for confirmation. The Board school was examined. The confirmation was performed on the following morning, Wednesday, Sept. 2. Sailed for Greenspond early the next day with a light wind, which became a-head before night and blew strongly, and a second time two nights were spent in the neighbourhood of Cape Freels, for the Church-ship could not reach Greenspond till Saturday at noon. In the evening, after prayers, the Bishop addressed the candidates as at other places.

Sunday, Sept. 6th.—Upwards of 150 children attend the Sunday school. The Bishop examined some classes both of boys and girls. The services in the church were as usual. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the morning and the Confirmations in the afternoon. Ninety-three were confirmed on this occasion.

Monday, Sept. 7th.—Sailed early for Pinchard's Island in a collecting boat, and arrived by ten o'clock. Had service with the Confirmation at eleven o'clock. Unfortunately the candidates in the neighbourhood of Cape Freels could not be advertised of the Bishop's arrival soon enough to attend, but all those of the island were present and confirmed. This island is twelve miles from Greenspond, and consequently can seldom be visited by the missionary. On the way back service was performed with a Confirmation in the church at Swain's Island. These churches were consecrated by Bishop Spencer. The wind having failed, the party took the small row-boat, and proceeded by moon-light from Swain's Island, stopping and landing at Fool's Island, on their way to inspect a new church there in progress.

The next morning the Church-ship beat against a strong head-wind to the Fair Islands. No Bishop had visited this place since Bishop Inglis, and the church was not then built. The church was now consecrated and the candidates confirmed. The evening had closed in before the service was ended, but as it was fine and the wind fair, it was determined to proceed at once. The anchor was weighed about eight o'clock, and by ten o'clock the next morning the good Church-ship was off the Narrows, having performed the last 120 miles in something less than fifteen hours.

Through God's good providence and great mercy no accident of any kind occurred during the whole voyage, which, reckoning the two returns to St. John's, could not have been much less than 800 miles along the coast: and in it upwards of twenty harbours were visited. The same hospitality and respect were shown to the Bishop every where, as on the similar occasion last year, and too often the same just complaints made of inadequate ministrations, and deficiency of the means of grace. Unhappily too the failure of the fishery to the northward this year has been almost general. Fogo and Change Islands are perhaps the only exceptions.

Be but however all willing and faithful in supporting the Church Society, according to their means, and God, who is able, is pledged to bestow all needful, all His richest blessings. "Prove me now herewith, (i. e. with tithes and offerings) saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Mal. iii. 10.

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