Top News

E silva surrexi

Grand Falls, from its inception in 1905, was a company town, owned and administered by the founding company of the mill, the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. In 1960 the apron strings were cut, first with a board of trustees, then a municipal council. The company helped out in the transition period, but over all the people adapted to municipal taxes and services without much fuss or panic.

Grand Falls, from its inception in 1905, was a company town, owned and administered by the founding company of the mill, the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company.

In 1960 the apron strings were cut, first with a board of trustees, then a municipal council. The company helped out in the transition period, but over all the people adapted to municipal taxes and services without much fuss or panic.

Lord Rothermere II, son of an original founder, Lord Rothermere (Harold Harmsworth) presented the town with its coat of arms and motto, E silva surrexi. From the precise and beautifully sounding Latin, it translates to, "I arose from the forest". Colloquially, we are wont to say, woods, not forest.

And woods it was up until 1905.

The completion of trans-island railway of 1898 brought Lewis Miller to Red Indian Lake. His sawmill failed, but Harry J. Crowe and Timber Estates used it, the black spruce stands, and the power potential of the Grand Falls, to attract Mason Beeton and Alfred Harmsworth to visit the interior as a sight to make newsprint. A deal was struck with Newfoundland's Prime Minister Robert Bond, and the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company was established in 1905.

Thus the massive project began. Millions of dollars were invested building a dam, powerhouse, mill, railway, and town. Over a thousand workers, locals and foreigners, poured into the virgin wilderness to carry out the arduous work. Finally, on Dec. 22, 1909, the first saleable newsprint was produced at the mill.

During the first years Lord Northcliffe would visit Grand Falls and on such a visit in 1910, said, "We have two objects in view in Grand Falls; One is to make the best paper in the world, and the second is to create a happy community."

As for the best paper in the world, there were production problems in the early years, but in the long run, just short of 100 years, the mill produced newsprint that sold in markets all over the world. From a production of 30,000 tons yearly, it climbed to over 200,000 tons in later years. In its life time, the mill produced over 17,000,000 tons of newsprint.

By 1913, 97 per cent of the workers were Newfoundlanders. Bay families like Gardner, Conway, Goulding, and Peddle blended in with foreigners like Hanson, Shapleigh, Arklie and Southcott.

The A.N.D. Co. had a profound effect on economic and social life of Newfoundland. Fishermen became papermakers, tradesmen, and their offspring followed them into the mill. Other fishermen came only for the seasonal work of logging, but the cash they earned changed the way of life in communities around the bay.

Over the years, papermakers and tradesmen left here to work in Corner Brook, and Stephenville, and practically in every province in Canada and places around the world.

The A.N.D. Co.'s influence was widespread. Besides its operations in Botwood, Badger, and Millertown, it bought the mill in Bishop's Falls and pumped its pulp to the Grand Falls mill by a pipeline. It also bought a bankrupt mill in Glovertown and brought its equipment here.

In logging centers such as Gambo, Terra Nova, Badger, and Millertown, loggers not only begot new loggers, but children who took up, practically every occupation in life, be it teaching, secretarial, law, medicine, trades, broadcasting and the arts.

The A.N.D. Co.'s part ownership of the Buchans mine was a godsend with the profits as means to help the mill through difficult economic periods. Buchans children also joined the ranks of every profession on the go.

The A.N.D. Co. invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the mill, Botwood, the railway, woods roads, and logging operations. The owners had a hands on approach, and concern for the workers and their communities which brought about the A.N.D. Co. spirit. Successor companies blinded by profits, ignored the spirit.

The A.N.D. Co.'s legacy lives with us in names such as the Northcliffe Drama Club, the Harmsworth Library, and streets such as Beeton, Carmelite, Scott, Jones, Lincoln, Cromer, Harris, Hardy, Sullivan, Dorrity, Judge, Brown, and Knight.

Mill workers over the generations developed a family like working relationship. They helped each other in time of need, fought side by side in the wars, cried together on the death of a fellow mill worker, and laughed together, even in the end. One of their last laughs was to nickname the mill's last manager (his third mill to shut down), Padlock Pelley.

In the heydays of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development, such as in 1958, the company had 3661 employees in its total operations. The economic impact on the provincial economy was astounding, Even St. John's, the mill's winter shipping port until 1960, got in on the action. No other place in Newfoundland's history has worked, 104 years, day-in, day-out work. But are we applauded for all those decades of hard work. Not bloody likely! We still have to grovel to the politicians and bureaucrats in St. John's to get things done here. And then it tends to be the leftovers.

The mill may be gone forever, but many will never forget the sounds of the whistle, the hiss of the steam, noises from the stackers and drumbarkers, along with the sights of logs in the mill pond, at Boom Landing, and men carrying lunch baskets.

As for Lord Northcliffe's desire to create a happy community, he practiced it by encouraging education, the visual and performing arts, sports, sanitation, and healthy food practices. All was done to make it a place workers and their families would want to live, the very place our Gordon Pinsent cherishes.

And here I was born. One of my first memories is walking up High St. on a hot summer day, with my mother, holding on to a carriage. Next, it was up the steps of the Cabot House, sitting on a table and a man tossing me a ball. My portrait and that of my baby sister, Caroline, are reminders of that day 60 years ago.

The happy town of my childhood was about events such as Junior Sports Day, Labour Day, Memorial Sunday, King Billy's Day parades, and the Jones Shield playoffs. And at some of these events we heard great marching music that came from the Salvation Army, Church Lads Brigade, or B Company, bands.

There was always something to do, such as going down to the river and throwing rocks at nugs. There were places to go, be it the stadium, the ski path, the Town Club, a movie, the chain park opposite Lady Northcliffe Hospital, the Bake Shop, Baird's Hotel, the Lions playground, the swimming pool, Rushy Pond, Leech Brook, Sunday movies at Father Meaney's or the Vogue. As well, we would row across the river to go fishing or walk to Goodyear's dam to do the same. Bonfire night was something else.

It was place where stores closed on Wednesday afternoons. A place where the Co-Op had iron accordion gates, the Cash and Carry sawdust on the floor. What better way to have fun than to go into the Royal Stores and watch the overhead wire-run cash system that took money in a container to the office upstairs.

It was a place of great vegetable gardens, beautiful flowers, trees, red stone walls, and Bobby Morrow's greenhouses.

It was a place that still had horses delivering goods right up into the early 1950's. I once saw a coal man heading up Second Avenue going at a speed to rival Charleton Heston in Ben Hur.

It was a place to savor such treats as stadium fries, Crown drinks, Cabot bread, Cyril House's chips and sloppy joes, and candy in such places a Hayward's, MacPherson's. As teens, we hung out at Eisenhaur's, the Orange Lodge, and Mercer's.

It was a place of great stores and shops full of owners and workers such as Victor Hiscock, Leo Ryan, Garland Morrissey, Sally Spicer, Sandy Rideout, Bill Tobin, Henry Wall, Burt Moores, Mr. Carter at the Town Club, Bill McCarthy, Pat Winslow, Laura Blackmore, and lots of women, other than Mrs. Bond, Mrs. Mac, Mrs. Ryan, whom we just called Miss.

It was a place of special sportsmen from away such as the great Wes Trainor, and Joe Byrne, who stayed and became our own.

It was a place to hear Walter Clarke making announcements at another great Andcos and Buchans Miners hockey game. It was a place to watch great baseball games with the likes of a Dick Duder, who could knock a baseball to kingdom come.

It was a place to see Jack Murphy hell bent for leather, going up High St, with a lunch basket on his arm on his way to the mill. In those days Jack would walk past a great post office that was torn down, and pass, not one traffic dummy, but two.

It was a place to peek in the window at the Blackmore Printing Company, and watch the Blackmores brothers, Walter and Mike, walking around the shop.

It was a place of great and honourable men and women such as Ken and Joe Goodyear, Vern Hiscock, Phonse Duggan, Tom Hopkins, Eddy Hudson, Caroline Ball, Neala Griffin and Estelle Wall. And it was a place of many modest hard working women and men, such as the man who cleaned up High St. on warm summer mornings with his push cart and tools, who helped to make it a great place to live.

It was a place of dances, St. Patrick Day times, balls, clubs, plays, bands, card games, billiards, and house parties galore.

It was a place with its faults, such as bigotry, snobbery, and pretentious ways. But in the end it was all pushed aside to make a better place to live.

In 1905, two young Englishmen, Alfred Harmsworth and his engineer, Mason Beeton came to this place in the virgin wilderness, to see if it was a place to make paper. Their vision came to fruition, and now 104 years it has come to a close. Well done, good and faithful servants.

As for a happy community, Lord Northcliffe would be proud to know that untold thousands look up on the town he founded as a most happy place to be born, if not live. And our own Jed Blackmore captured all that spirit in his wonderful historical musical, Out of the Forest, in 2005.

Lord Northcliffe, Lord Rothermere, Sir Mason Beeton, were all young men barely in their 40s when they took up the task of this bold adventure on the Exploits.

Now that the mill is done, it's the new generation of the forty -somethings, not just in Grand Falls-Windsor but throughout the Exploits Valley and environs, who have to take the Northcliffe legacy, and Carpe diem - seize the day.

And may our future be as blessed as our past.

Andy Barker can be contacted at

Recent Stories