Museum Fundraising Concert, Feb. 16

pic for poster - updated

Enjoy local music? Want to support our community’s heritage? Come to the Conception Bay Museum’s Fundraising Concert on Saturday, February 16, at St. Paul’s Hall, Harbour Grace. Musical acts include local favourites Chad Hunt, Long Drung, Pam Parsons, Paul & Brenda Stevenson, and John Smith & Benny Lewis. There’ll be door prizes and the final 50/50 draw, too!

Event starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.00 and available at the Harbour Grace Town Office, or by contacting Brenda Hunt-Stevenson (596-7549) or Patrick Collins (596-2172).

Proceeds from this event will go toward hiring a senior Coordinator/Curator for the third consecutive summer!

Date: Saturday, Feburary 16, 2019

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $15.00. Tickets available at the Harbour Grace Town Office, or by contacting Brenda Hunt-Stevenson (596-7549) or Patrick Collins (596-2172).


Photo of the Day: East End, Harbour Grace, ca. 1950


Taken from a postcard series of Harbour Grace, ca. 1950. Caption reads: “East End, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, R 18.” Photograph courtesy Conception Bay Museum Archives. Some historic structures visible in this photograph include:

  • Knights of Columbus, Dalton Council
  • St. Paul’s Church
  • Masonic Lodge No. 476 A.F. and A.M., S.C.
  • Old Post Office
  • Coughlan United Church
  • Point of Beach Lighthouse & R.D. McRae buildings
  • Customs House


Photo of the Day: Harbour Grace Island, ca. 1950


Taken from a postcard series of Harbour Grace, circa 1950. Caption: “Harbour Grace Island, Newfoundland.” Photo courtesy Conception Bay Museum Archives, Harbour Grace, NL.

Like its neighbour Carbonear Island, Harbour Grace Island had several rough fishing stages in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. To the left of this photo is “Eastern Rock,” where a Spanish galleon, the St. Malo, reportedly beached during a battle with Peter Easton’s fleet. Over a century later, during his “Winter War” of 1697-8, Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville destroyed stages and captured fishermen on Harbour Grace Island.

Fish Oil and Water: The Life of William Azariah Munn

First blog post from us in a while. After profiling two of Harbour Grace’s most well known figures, Amelia Earhart and Peter Easton, we decided to write about an under-appreciated historical figure, William Azariah Munn, whose scholarship and business endeavours have left an indelible mark on Newfoundland history. 


William Azariah Munn (ca. 1896)

William Azariah Munn, ca. 1896. Photo courtesy Montreal Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. 7-8, 1896.

Born on May 17, 1864, in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, William Azariah Munn was the son of Robert Stewart Munn—nephew and heir to John Munn, Conception Bay’s most powerful merchant—and Elizabeth Munn (née Munden). William was named after his maternal relations, that is, his grandfather Azariah Munden, captain of both the SS Commodore and SS Vanguard, the two steamships in John Munn and Company’s sealing fleet, and great-grandfather William Munden, a famous sea captain. In his early years he was educated at the Harbour Grace Grammar School, under Professor John Roddick. He was later sent to Scotland, to Merchiston Castle College, where he finished his studies. After schooling, William moved to Montreal, where he gained valuable business experience under his uncle Stewart Munn, who operated a profitable importing firm. In 1893 he married Ethel Mildred McNabb and returned to Harbour Grace, joining his father’s business, John Munn and Company, with his brother Robert Stewart.

W.A. Munn & Co. production facilities

W.A. Munn & Co. cod liver oil production facilities, Harbour Grace, ca. 1930. Photo courtesy Town of Harbour Grace photo archives.

Harbour Grace Surveyor's Map (1893)

Harbour Grace Survey (1893), featuring W.A. Munn’s ice houses, cold storages, and cod liver oil production facilities on the Cochrane Street extension. Photo courtesy Steve Payne. 

However, the two brothers were soon forced to start afresh in the fishing supply industry, due to the death of their father and the Bank Crash of 1894. In 1895 they started the import agency W.A. Munn and Company in St. John’s. The company was a large importer of flour and exporter of partridgeberries and blueberries. Most notably, the company was a leading producer of medicinal cod liver oil, and a processing plant was established in Harbour Grace, the Munns’ hometown. Much of their cod liver oil was exported to England. In 1924 the British Empire Exhibition featured Munn’s Cod Liver Oil. William’s plant in Harbour Grace and cod liver oil display attracted much attention, according to a report for the Newfoundland Quarterly. The substance even impressed King George V, despite his queasy childhood experiences with the tonic.

Munn's Newfoundland Cod Liver Oil Exhibit, 1924

Munn’s Cod Liver Oil Exhibit, British Empire Exhibition, 1924. Photo courtesy TuckDB postcards.

William was later appointed an agent for Lloyd’s of London, an English insurance market. In 1911 he started his own company, Newfoundland Marine Insurance, to handle W.A. Munn and Company’s internal insurance requirements. This firm eventually evolved into Munn Insurance, today one of the province’s largest insurance brokers.

Excerpt from W.A. Munn's Maritime Insurance Book

Excerpt from W.A. Munn and Co.’s Marine Insurance Book, 1948-1950. Photo courtesy Maritime History Archive.

Like his father and brother Robert, William had a keen interest in the history of the island; an avid and curious reader, he wrote prolifically on Newfoundland topics. The Newfoundland Quarterly serialized his history of Harbour Grace from 1933 to 1939, in which he published the first written account of the Sheila NaGeira legend. In the words of this publication, as chair of the Newfoundland Historical Society, William worked “more zealously and enthusiastically than any member of the society in its advancement.”

28 Gower Street

28 Gower Street, St. John’s, former residence of W.A. Munn, 2018. The house was originally built in 1896 for the Munns. Author photograph.

Most notably, William was interested in North American voyages and landfalls. He particularly enjoyed the Norse sagas “Saga of Eirik the Red” and “Saga of the Greenlanders,” recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries by Christian monks in Iceland. These sagas relate early Viking explorations in Helluland, Markland, and Vinland, three unidentified locales that prompted much scholarly debate. From his involvement in the fishing and mercantile trade, William knew northern Newfoundland and coastal Labrador well. After much reading and research, William posited that Helluland was located around Hamilton Inlet, Markland along the long beaches of Cape Porcupine, and Vinland around L’Anse aux Meadows, Pistolet Bay, and Milan Arm. In 1914 the St. John’s Daily Telegram printed William’s Viking theory in pamphlet form. Unfortunately, the limited circulation of this publication kept William’s conclusions from reaching a wider audience. Later, his hypothesis was proven correct: in the 1960s Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad excavated ruins at L’Anse aux Meadows, proving that Norse settlers had been in Newfoundland before the landfall of John Cabot in 1497.

William died of a heart attack on October 22, 1940, and is buried at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Cemetery, Harbour Grace.

Further Reading

“W.A. Munn Obituary.” Newfoundland Quarterly, Winter 1940: 38.

Ingstad, Benedicte. A Grand Adventure: The Lives of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad and Their Discovery of a Viking Settlement in North America. Translated by J.K. Stenehjem, McGill-Queens University Press, 2017. Print.

Munn, W.A. Munn. Wineland Voyages: Location of Helluland, Markland and Vinland. 6th ed., Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland & Labrador, 1946. Print.

Wadden, Nix. Gower Street: A Memoir. Flanker Press, 2015. Print.

Wiseman, Joe. “W.A. Munn: A Short Biography and Bibliography.” Research paper, English 3850. (Dr. Patrick O’Flaherty.) Memorial University. July 25, 1978. Print.

No Colony for Old Men: Peter Easton in Conception Bay

Regarding the early history of Conception Bay, few stories get as much traction as that of Peter Easton, the privateer-turned-pirate whose power in the area knew no bounds. However, the story is fraught with discrepancies, and local folklore often plugs any gaps in the official history. Most of what we know comes from primary sources—namely letters and early writings—and even these are sometimes contradictory. For instance, one source says Easton was a man “of low birth,” another that he was “late of London, gent.” Pedigree is but one example of mystery clouding history. But through the cannon smoke, a narrative has emerged, a tale of murder, kidnappings, battle and, of course, treasure.

Brueghel the Elder, 16th Century Ship

Brueghel the Elder, a sixteenth-century ship. (Photo credit:

When He Was Good

According to sources, Easton’s time in Newfoundland began around 1602, when Queen Elizabeth I sent a British Royal Navy fleet to the island, to protect the migratory fishery from attack. At the time, the Anglo-Spanish War had been raging for 17 years, and English fishing vessels were fair play for the Spanish, who had also made inroads into the New World, along with the French, Basques, and Portuguese.

As an admiral in the navy and a certified privateer, Easton had carte blanche to raid and steal from any rivals of the English—a profitable venture for a seafarer in seventeenth-century Newfoundland, where neither law nor organized religion presided.

During this early period of the Easton story, one usually encounters the legend of Princess Sheila na Geira and Lieutenant Gilbert Pike. So who was Sheila na Geira, and who was Gilbert Pike?

Short answer: Definitively, it’s tough to say. If you’re speaking to locals, the Coles Notes read something as follows. When Easton was still a privateer under the auspices of Elizabeth I, he captured a Dutch pirate ship off the coast of France; and this Dutch ship had recently ransacked an Irish ship, on which Sheila na Geira was travelling. According to legend, na Geira was the daughter of the Chieftan of County Connacht, Ireland, hence the appellation ‘Princess.’  Na Geira herself was on the way to France, where her aunt was an abbess in a convent. After rescuing na Geira, Easton and his men continued to Newfoundland, their original destination before the encounter with the Dutch warship. During the voyage, na Geira fell in love with Gilbert Pike, a well-bred lieutenant on Easton’s ship, and were subsequently married by the fleet’s chaplain. Once in Newfoundland, Pike and na Geira decided to remain in Mosquito (now Bristol’s Hope), a suburb of Harbour Grace. Most of this history comes from an early scholar of Conception Bay, William A. Munn, and his meticulous study of Harbour Grace. (Munn was also one of the first to posit the idea that Vinland could be Newfoundland.)

Other stories mix and mingle with the accepted history. Some say na Geira and Pike’s child was the first European progeny born in North America (unlikely, considering the birth Snorri Thorfinnsson in Vinland, circa 1004 – 1013); that Pike and na Geira stayed in Mosquito because the former would not join Easton in a life of piracy; that Pike and na Geira moved to Carbonear in 1611, to escape from Easton on his return to Conception Bay; and that Easton wanted na Geira for himself.

So, who knows. It’s a fun story anyway. The myth has been around for centuries, inspiring dramatic plays, poems, novels, and the general culture of Conception Bay. If you’re interested in parsing fact from fiction, Philip Hiscock’s article “A Perfect Princess: The Twentieth-Century Legend of Sheila na Geira and Gilbert Pike,” published in volume 18, issue 2 of Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, is definitely worth the read. (Hyperlink and PDF courtesy of University of New Brunswick’s e-archives.)


Sheila na Geira (bottom) features prominently in the Town of Carbonear’s Coat of Arms. (Photo credit: Philip Hiscock / Town of Carbonear)

A Pirate’s Turn

Back to the Anglo-Spanish War for a second. After Elizabeth I passed in March 1603, James I ascended to the English throne. One of his first orders of business? Ending the war and significantly reducing the size of the Royal Navy.

For someone accustomed to unbridled power and wealth, Easton found it difficult to stop attacking rival ships—so he continued. But without leg to stand on legally, Easton crossed the opaque line between privateer and pirate, and a warrant was soon issued for his arrest.

However, catching someone so mobile proved difficult. From 1602 – 1610, Easton travelled to various locations across the greater Atlantic Ocean. According to the record, historian Richard Whidbourne writes in his book Crosses and Comforts: Being The Life and Times of Sir Richard Whitbourne (Great Auk Books, 2005) that “Easton is first heard of somewhere off the coast of Ireland in 1608” (p. 70), when a fellow pirate staggered into Cork harbour, complaining of Easton “treacherously overthrowing” him. Soon after, in 1610, reports say that Easton killed Saukewell (or Salkeild), a “petty rebel and pirate,” throwing him overboard his ship. Outside of the Emerald Isle, Easton often rendezvoused at the port of Mamorra, on Africa’s Barbary Coast (today, the Maghreb), where as many as forty pirate ships manned by 2,000 Englishmen unloaded stolen cargo to local merchants. Easton also spend extended periods of time in Guinea, the West Indies, and the Azores.


A seventeenth-century map by the Dutch cartographer Jan Janssonius showing the Barbary Coast (“Barbaria”). North Africa was a popular haunt for Easton and other rogues. (Photo credit: Memory of the Netherlands)

In 1610 Easton blocked off the Bristol Channel, forcing the ships entering and leaving the area to pay him hefty protection fees. During this time, the wealthy Killigrew family of Falmouth, Cornwall, were financing his activities, giving Easton a significant degree of latitude in a country where he was wanted. Unsurprisingly, the Bristol merchants didn’t take kindly to this taxation racket and appealed to the Lord High Admiral, Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham, who sent the privateer Henry Mainwaring after Easton. Mainwaring never had any luck capturing Easton and turned to piracy himself in 1614. (I sense a trend here…)

Happy Adventures

The Newfoundland leg of our story continues around 1611-12 (depending on what you read), when Easton fortified the Bears Cove area of Harbour Grace. The extent of the fortifications are open to debate—some say there was a fort, others a few cannons. Either way, the pirate did frequent Harbour Grace and docked his ship, the “Happy Adventure,” at Caplin Cove. Easton also fortified Kellys Island, near Bell Island, and Oderin Island, in Placentia Bay, and spent significant time in Renews and Ferryland, where he built a house. YouTuber ‘Newfoundland Metal Detecting‘ recently visited Kellys Island; his vlog of the stay gives a good impression of the rugged landscape:

In 1612, while Easton was away on a Caribbean voyage, the French Basques captured the fort at Harbour Grace. As Eastons’ ships returned to the Harbour, the Basque fleet sailed out to meet him. The two rivals clashed off Harbour Grace Island, and the Basques’ lead ship, the St. Malo, ran aground on Eastern Rock. Forty-seven of Easton’s men died in the battle, and there is reasonable cause to believe they were buried in the Bears Cove area. Several years ago, the Coughlan United Church dug a new sewer line and discovered something unexpected: a mass grave. The clothing and dating of the bodies are consistent with the period. The location makes sense, too, since Easton’s fortifications were just across the street.

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Of course, Easton wasn’t the only person in Newfoundland at the time; acting on the authority of merchants and the English crown, early colonists had established headquarters at various locations on the island. Established in 1610, John Guy‘s Cuper’s Cove settlement (now Cupids) was the first in Newfoundland, and the second oldest in North America, after Jamestown, Virginia. (The site of Guy’s colony is currently an archaeological dig and definitely worth checking out.)

In a letter dated July 1612, Guy writes of an encounter with the arch-pirate:

“Because the proceedings of one Captain Peter Easton, a pirate, and his company since, are most fit to be known, before I touch our plantation business, you shall understand what they have been unto this time. Until the seventeenth of this present, the said Captain Easton remained in Harbor Grace, there trimming and repairing his shipping and commanding not only the carpenters of each ship to do his business; but hath taken victuals, munition, and necessaries from every ship, together with about one hundred men out of the Bay, to man his ships, being now in number six. He purposed to have before he goeth, as is said, out of the Land five hundred men…

“As I sailed from hence towards Renews, in a small bark, I fell into one of their hands: and one of my company was hurt with a musket. There was one of their crew that wintered with me here the first year, by whose means, and because I was in the bark, they made show that they were sorry that they had meddled with us. And so they departed from us, without coming aboard. That which they sought after was men, to increase their number.

“Before the said Captain Easton’s departure, he sent three ships into Trinity Bay, to store himself with victuals, munition, and men, who are said to be worse used than the ships here; he taketh much ordnance from them. The said Easton was lately at Saint John’s, and is now, as far as I can learn, at Ferryland, where he taketh his pleasure; and thereabouts the rest are to meet him. It is given out, that [he] will send one Captain Harvy in a ship to Ireland, to understand news about his pardon, which if he can obtain in that large and ample manner as he expecteth, then he giveth out, that he will come in. Otherwise, it is thought that he will get protection of the Duke of Florence and that, in his course here hence, he will hover about westwards of the Islands of the Azores, to see whether he can light upon any of the plate fleet, or any good rich booty, before his coming in. Albeit he hath so prevailed here to the strengthening of himself and encouraging of others to attempt the like hereafter, yet, were there that course taken, as I hope shall be, it is a most easy matter to repress them.”

Though Guy enjoyed relatively cordial relations with Easton, colonist Sir Richard Whitbourne was not so fortunate. When in Ferryland in 1612, Easton kidnapped Whitbourne and six other masters of English vessels. In captivity, Whitbourne rejected Easton’s “golden promises” of “much wealth to put in [his] hands,” but agreed to seek the pirate a pardon from James I. After eleven weeks of detainment, Whitbourne then headed for England, where he found a pardon had already been granted from Ireland, dated February 1612. Another pardon was later issued on November 26, 1612. However, neither reached Easton, whose “hovering with those Ships and riches, upon the coast of Barbary…with a longing desire, and full expectation to be called home, lost that hope by too much delaying of time of him who carried the Pardon.” (See Whitbourne’s A Discourse and Discovery of New-found-land for the full account, courtesy of Memorial University’s e-archives.)

With eight ships and five hundred men in tow, Easton left Newfoundland and headed for the Azores, hunting the Spanish Plate Fleet (or Silver Fleet). There, he succeeding in capturing three of these treasure ships—the largest successful pirate heist until that time.

Easton retired sometime between 1614-15, in Villefranche, France, on the Riviera. With his finances in the mire, the Duke of Savoy, Carlos Emmanuel I, made his ports free, in hopes that trade could be boosted through Nice and Villefranche. And for the pirates of Mamorra, the offer of free asylum and safe conduct for criminals was enticing. Striking up a kinship with the Duke, Easton agreed to pay a one-time tithe on his wealth, in exchange for protection. His penchant for violence didn’t completely stop, though. When visiting Turin, the local Duke employed Easton in his attack on the Duke of Mantua, a neighbour and rival. In this brief conflict, Easton “covered himself with glory[;] among his other achievements he is so skilful in laying guns that a few shots by him produce more effect than most gunners produce from many” (Whidbourne, p. 77). But at Villefranche, Easton finally had a truly safe haven to land his ships and wealth, with which he bought a title, the Marquis of Savoy. He soon married a rich heiress and retired in splendor.

Any references to Easton stop in 1620, when scholars suspect he died in France.

A recent CTV W5 documentary, “Pirates of Newfoundland,” covers the bones of this story, with some great shots and interviews. You can check it out here:

(Video courtesy of Canadian Diver TV.)

Upcoming: Easton’s Treasure (2017) & “Pirates to Pilots” Festival

Interest in the Peter Easton story ramps up this time of year with the tourism boost in Harbour Grace, and this summer there’s even more buzz, due to a new six-part television show, Easton’s Treasure (2017). Directed by Stafford Jenkins and filmed in Conception Bay, Easton’s Treasure follows the “Discovery Team,” a small group of Newfoundland treasure hunters eager to uncover the real story of the pirate. The series will be streamed on Amazon’s Instant Video platform, and a premiere of the first episode will be held on June 23, 2017, at the Splash Centre, Harbour Grace. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Also, be on the lookout for the Town of Harbour Grace’s upcoming “Pirates to Pilots” festival on Canada Day weekend (June 29 – July 3, 2017), which will feature various themed events relating to piracy and aviation.

 Links & Further Information

• Conception Bay Museum: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | YouTube | Flickr

• Town of Harbour Grace: Website | History | Facebook | Twitter

• Additional Easton biographies: Dictionary of Canadian Biography | Eastwaters | The Pirate King | Canadian Encyclopedia | National Post | CTV | History of Piracy | Age of Pirates | Crossroads for Cultures | H.F. Shortis’s “All About Pirates” (ca. 1900)

Easton’s Treasure (2017): Facebook | Event | IMDb

• Oderin Island: Downhome Magazine | Day of Archaeology

• Cupids Legacy Centre: Website | Facebook

• Related fiction: Paul Butler’s Easton (2004), Easton’s Gold (2005), & NaGeira (2006)


Transatlanticism: Amelia Earhart in Harbour Grace

This past week, we’ve been busying celebrating the 85th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s solo transatlantic flight from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, to Culmore, Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On Saturday, May 20, around five hours and twenty minutes before Earhart’s takeoff, poet Heidi Greco launched her new poetry collection, Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart (Caitlin Press, 2017), from which she read to a small gathering of poets, patrons, aviators and historians at the Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace. In Flightpaths, Greco reimagines what may have happened to Earhart during her attempt to round the world along the equatorial line, using journal entries, fragmented documents and, well, poetry. Great poetry. However, the true story of Earhart’s 1932 transatlantic crossing from Harbour Grace may be “stranger than fiction.”

Amelia Earhart in Harbour Grace

Balchen, Earhart & L'Esperance at the Cochrane Hotel, Harbour Grace

Bernt Balchen (left), Amelia Earhart (centre) and Lewis L’Esperance (right), Shell Oil representative, on the steps of the Cochrane Hotel, Harbour Grace, on May 20, 1932.

Ever since her transatlantic crossing as a passenger in 1928—the first for a woman at the time—from Trepassey, Newfoundland, to Burry Point, Wales, Earhart wanted to conquer the Atlantic Ocean as a pilot, without any help at the controls. On May 19, 1932, she, Ed Gorski, her mechanic, and Bernt Balchen, the prestigious Norwegian aviator, left Teterboro, New Jersey, at 3:15 p.m. and headed to Saint John, New Brunswick. Balchen did most of the flying and even registered Earhart’s Lockheed Vega in his own name, to avoid press attention.

Their eventual destination? Harbour Grace, from which many famed and ill-fated flights had taken off to “challenge the Atlantic.” At 2:00 p.m. local time, Earhart’s single-engine monoplane landed at the airstrip. From there, Earhart went to the Cochrane Hotel for a short rest; Balchen and Gorski stayed at the airfield to prepare the Lockheed Vega for takeoff. At the hotel, Earhart met the proprietress of the iconic establishment, Rose Archibald, whose gifts of tomato juice and a thermos of soup have become legendary in the town’s aviation history and lore.

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Local Arthur Rogers then took Earhart and her company back to the airstrip, where she would leave at 7:20 p.m. A video of Earhart leaving Harbour Grace can be found here and on our YouTube page:

The Flight

Four hours out from Harbour Grace, the plane’s exhaust manifold broke, and for the next ten hours flames shooting from the vent threatened the success of the flight. Soon the altimeter malfunctioned, which resulted in Earhart flying blind for five hours. And if that wasn’t enough, she dealt with thick clouds and ice developing on the wings of her aircraft.

Unable to make it to Paris as Lindbergh had in 1927, Earhart landed in a cow pasture belonging to the Gallagher family, just outside the small hamlet of Culmore, north of Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The record-breaking flight took fourteen hours and fifty-six minutes after her departure from Harbour Grace.

Earhart at Derry

Earhart leaving Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on May 22, 1932.

The Gallaghers offered Earhart a room for the night, which the aviatress accepted, so long as they “didn’t mind her clothes.” Famished, she told Mrs Gallagher that “tomato juice” had been her only meal since leaving America. Recently, BBC Radio Ulster’s Time of Our Lives program recovered Mrs Gallagher’s account of the event. You can listen to the audio here:


The next day, on May 22, Earhart waved the townspeople of Londonderry goodbye and headed for Hanworth Airfield, London, England, where a throng of reporters and fans were ready to greet her.

Earhart at Hanworth Airfield, London, England

Earhart’s arrival at Hanworth Airfield, London, England, where reporters were ready to greet her on May 22, 1932.

The flight established Earhart as an international hero, making her the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. For her bravery, Earhart won many honours, including the Gold Medal from the National Geographic Society, presented by United States President Herbert Hoover, the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress, and the Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government.

In Her Own Words

The Challenge of the Atlantic

Our (well-worn) copy of Bill Parsons and Bill Bowman’s The Challenge of the Atlantic (Robinson-Blackmore Publishers, 1983).

In The Challenge of the Atlantic: A Photo-Illustrated History of Early Aviation in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland (Robinson-Blackmore Publishers, 1983), Bill Parsons and Bill Bowman’s excellent book on aviation in the town, Earhart’s own account of the flight is related:

“‘My start from Friday from Newfoundland was delayed a little bit to have time to fix up all the customs requirements. They gave me clearance papers, just as if I were Captain of a ship, and I filled a blank space, saying I was going to Paris. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but that did just as well as any other.

‘For the first four hours out I had beautiful weather and I would see the sky and ocean. Everything was lovely.

‘Then, all of a sudden, I ran into rain squalls and heavy wind. Then my exhaust manifold burnt out and bright red flames began shooting out the side.

‘I was not frightened—but it isn’t any fun to have those flames so near you. If there were an oil or gas leak it might cause trouble.

‘Then my altimeter went wrong—the first time in ten years of flying.

‘It was dark and cloudy and raining, and there was nothing for me to do but start climbing. I fixed an easy gradient and kept it up for some time.

‘Then I discovered my tachometer had frozen, so I knew I was high enough, [and] ice formation on my wings made me drop lower.

‘It was only twice after that I caught a glimpse of the ocean. Once I dropped down and saw little white waves under me, but looking down on mountains when man is missing from the picture I had no measure to tell how high the waves were, or how high I was above them—maybe 100 feet, maybe 300. When the morning of Saturday came, I was flying between two layers of clouds. The one below me was composed of little white wooly ones. After a while they all joined together and formed just a great white blanket, like a snowfall stretching in every direction.

‘When the sun broke through the blanket above me it was so blinding that, even with my smoked glasses, I had to come down and fly in the clouds for a while so I could see again.

‘It was here that my eye caught the second glimpse of the ocean. I saw waves running before a northwest wind and, thinking I was pretty far south, I turned due east. The result was that I hit Ireland in about the middle, whereas if I had gone on I probably would have passed the southern tip.

‘There must have been some error in the weather bureau’s calculations, because they thought I would miss the rain altogether. When I got into the squalls I suppose I was to be to the south and kept correcting to the north.

‘I had plenty of fuel and could have kept right on to Paris, maybe further, but my motor was straining; so after sighting land, which I knew must be Ireland, I decided to come down.

‘I could see peat bogs and thatched huts beneath me. I headed north along a railway track and, after a while, flew over Londonderry. Fifteen minutes later I had landed.'”

Parsons and Bowman’s book offers fascinating, detailed accounts, such as the one above, with high-quality photographs as accompaniments. Our friend Lisa Daly, an aviation historian and archaeologist, wrote a favourable review over on her blog, If you can track down a copy of The Challenge of the Atlantic, the text is well worth the effort.

Links & Further Information

• Conception Bay Museum: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | YouTube | Flickr

• Purdue University’s ‘Amelia Earhart Papers’: Airstrip | Lockheed Vega | Earhart

• Earhart media: YouTube | Audioboom

• Lisa Daly: Twitter |

• The Challenge of the Atlantic: Goodreads | Abebooks

• ‘Hidden Newfoundland’: Airstrip profile

• Town of Harbour Grace: Website | History | Facebook | Twitter

“Hors Circuits II” Filming at Conception Bay Museum

Hey (again) everyone! So, more exciting news:

Today we were lucky enough to welcome Justin Oakey, writer and director of Riverhead (2016), Flankers (2014), and The World Is Burning (2013); Xavier Georges, of ‘Sibelle Productions!’; and the cast and crew of Hors Circuits II to the Conception Bay Museum. Hors Circuits II is a documentary series which illuminates the oft-forgotten past of some of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most spectacular locales.

Justin Oakey

Justin Oakey, writer and director of Riverhead (2016), Flankers (2014), and The World Is Burning (2013). (Photo credit: CBC)

Our own Patrick Collins donned his acting hat and guided host Jennifer Breault through the Museum, highlighting the rich history of piracy, shipbuilding and mercantilism in Conception Bay. Look for the Museum to be featured in Season 2, Episode 7 of Hors Circuits II, due in late August.

In addition to film production, Georges and his team are involved in recreating arcane manmade structures with the latest twenty-first century digital technology. We were able to provide them with some architectural reproductions (1991) of the S.S. Kyle (courtesy of S. K. Foster), which Georges will use when designing his three-dimensional model of the famous transport and sealing vessel.

SS Kyle full1

A reproduction of the architectural design of the S.S. Kyle, courtesy of S. K. Foster (1991).

Hors Circuits II is broadcast on UNIS TV and regular cable networks in Canada. As well, TV5 Monde brings the series to the world in 160 countries and 20 different languages.

Past episodes and further information about the series can be found on UNIS TV’s website.

Hors Circuits II

Xavier, Justin, Jennifer, and the rest of the crew were kind enough to sign us a promotional poster. Look out for Hors Circuits II Season 2, Episode 7 in late August 2017.

Links & Further Information

• Justin Oakey: IMDb | VimeoInstagram

Riverhead (2016) teaser | Flankers (2014) | The World Is Burning (2013) 

• ‘Sibelle Productions!’: Information & Contact | Vimeo

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Book Launch: Flightpaths, by Heidi Greco

Book Launch poster

Hey everyone!

Our first post is pretty exciting: on Saturday, May 20th, 2017 at 2:00PM, we’ll be hosting award-winning poet Heidi Greco at the Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace, where she’ll be launching her great new collection of poems, Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart (Caitlin Press, 2017). Appropriately, the book “launch” will commemorate the literal launch of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega, which left the Harbour Grace airstrip on May 20th, 1932 on its transatlantic flight, 85 years ago. With Flightpaths, Greco reimagines and reinvigorates our understanding of the pioneer aviator, of both her life and her legend.


“Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart” (Caitlin Press, 2017), by Heidi Greco

As per the press release from Caitlin Press, Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart is “presented as if written by Earhart herself, and considers some of the many theories that attempt to explain her disappearance. Through logbook entries, recollections and letters, the work explores some of the various flightpaths she may have taken. Ann Holtgren Pellegreno, the first to fly a Lockheed 10 Electra around the world on the Earhart Trail, praises Flightpaths: ‘In this unique and intriguing fictional tale, Heidi Greco convinces us that Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 10 Electra went down near a remote Pacific island. This tragic event, and the disappearance of Amelia’s plane into the ocean, leaves the reader wondering what happened to this brave pilot who accepted the challenge of a world flight in 1937.’

“Being the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic wasn’t Earhart’s only feat of feminism, as evidenced by Greco’s painstaking research into the pilot’s life as a pacifist, poet, and punster. She was ahead of her time in so many ways, right down to the no-nonsense clothes she wore (many of them fashioned after her own designs). A bonafide Earhart expert, Greco fuses truth with poetic license, establishing a must-read book of verse.”

A blend of storytelling, fiction and history, Saturday promises to be a great afternoon. The event is open to the public, books will be available for sale, and all are welcome.

We hope to see you there!

About Heidi Greco

Heidi Greco

Heidi Greco, author of “Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart” (Caitlin Press, 2017)

Heidi Greco is a longtime resident of Surrey, BC. In addition to writing and editing, she often leads workshops on topics that range from ekphrastic poetry to chapbook making. She’s been an advocate for the literary arts in her community and was instrumental in establishing two distinct reading series, but she considers her greatest success to have been convincing her city to hire an official Poet Laureate. She writes in many genres, with poems, fiction, essays and book reviews to her credit. Her books include the novella Shrinking Violets, which was co-winner of the Ken Klonsky Award in 2011. Her work has also appeared in many anthologies, most recently in Make it True: Poetry from Cascadia (Leaf Press, 2015) and The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them (Anvil, 2015).

Links & Further Information

• Facebook event:

• Book details:

• Michael Despotovic (Publicist): (604) 831-7024 or

• Caitlin Press: Website | Facebook | Twitter

• Conception Bay Museum: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | YouTubeFlickr

• Town of Harbour Grace: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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