Down Memory Lane

Browsing among the records of the Grand Bank Methodist Church (1816-1925)

Published on March 17, 2017

This photo of a banking schooner under full sail is just one of the outport scenes captured by Grand Bank photographer Robert W. Stoodley from 1928- 956.

©Allan Stoodley Photography

There's no doubt about it that time seems to fly faster as we get older. It was four years ago, after I retired, that the Southern Gazette gave me the opportunity to write articles looking at our past; it only seems like yesterday that I began penning the "Down Memory Lane" column.

I'm fortunate to have available at my fingertips an almost endless supply of historic writings plus hundreds of photographs, some of them dating back more than 100 years. Let me explain a bit further.

My first job, after finishing high school at Grand Bank in 1956, was working in the newsroom at the Evening Telegram at St. John's. A couple of years later I moved back to Grand Bank where I have lived ever since. 

From the late 1950’s, up to and including the 1980’s, I wrote extensively for the Evening Telegram, CBC Radio and the Atlantic Advocate, covering nearly every major event and human interest happenings that occurred, not only on the Burin Peninsula but along the southwest coast as well.

In addition to the photos and articles I had previously written myself, I also have at my disposal diaries, essays and reports of education, church and town related matters written by George A. Buffett (1847-1929) and Aaron F. Buffett (1876-1948) as well as photographs from that era which have been passed down through the Buffett family and are now in possession of my wife, Beatrice. 

Also, my father, Robert W. Stoodley (1904-1956), was a noted photographer in his day and I have his collection of photographs that documented outport life on black and white film. Photos of banking schooners under full sail, drying salt-fish on the beaches of Grand Bank, decks of schooners awash with fresh cod, football teams from St. Lawrence, Grand Bank, Fortune and St. Pierre et Miquelon, and horse-drawn funeral processions with mourners walking behind are just some of the well-known scenes he captured on film.

It is obvious that when I sit down in front of my computer, it's not "is there something I can write about, but instead it's what or which topic will I choose”. 

For some four or five months in 2016 I was engrossed in researching and writing the 200-year history of the Methodist/United Church congregation of Grand Bank.  That project is finished now and there's no doubt in some of my future writings I will be including some of the interesting things I learned about the generations that came before us.

In today's column I will mention just a few tidbits of information from a compilation by Aaron Buffett entitled "Browsing among the records of the Grand Bank Methodist Church (1816-1925)".   

To explain, the early Methodist Missionaries, although headquartered at Grand Bank, in reality had a territory to cover that stretched westward along the south coast all the way from Lamaline to Port Aux Basques.

The first recorded baptism was performed on Nov. 2, 1817 — Jemima, daughter of Benjamin and Susan Osmond.  She was born on October 2, 1817. The baptism was performed by Rev. Richard Knight, who was the first Protestant Missionary to be stationed in Fortune Bay. 

Then, Rev. Simeon Noall recorded a great many baptisms in 1826 and 1827, both in Fortune Bay and Placentia Bay. On March 5, 1827, he baptized eight children at Lamaline and on July 2nd he baptized 10 at Round Harbour. Other places mentioned in the records of these years are: Jersey Harbour, St. Jacques, Ferby's Cove, Frenchman's Cove, Harbour Breton, Pick Harbour (Pickart), Garnish, Brunnick (Brunette?), Poile and Lalley Cove.

Allan Stoodley resides at Grand Bank.  He can be reached at and he welcomes comments on this or any other article he has written.