Tag Archives: Bay St. George

Colombe Brothers

frederick-colombus colombe -heritage.nf.ca
Frederick Colombe No. 912 1st Bn. Nfld Regiment

The Colombe brothers of Shallop Cove, Fred and Frank, died exactly two years apart. On October 9, 1915, Fred died of wounds received at Gallipoli. On October 9, 1917, Frank was killed in action “in France or Belgium”.

They were among the elder of Frank Sr. and Susan (Benoit) Colombe’s large family. Fred’s attestation papers say he was 21 when he enlisted in January 1915.  In March 1916, five months after Fred’s death, Frank enlisted. His attestation papers say he was 20. According to their mother, Fred was 20 when he died and Frank was 19.

On June 9, 1921, Francis Colombe Sr. died. Soon after, Mrs. Colombe sought financial help from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Her application for Separation Allowance is in the RNR archives.

Here it is. Below each page, I’ve typed out some of the questions and answers. The ones that tell an astounding, and profoundly sad, story. It’s her words but not her handwriting. On the final page, look closely at the signature. You’ll see an X and “her mark”. That makes her words even more haunting somehow.

Click each image to enlarge it or go to The Rooms’ RNR Database to see PDFs of the entire files. (They are in list as Columbus.) This application is in Fred’s file.

rnr separation allowance application pg 1To The Paymaster,

Separation Allowance Branch, St. John’s, Nfld.

(1) Name of soldier, Rank, Reg’t or Unit, Reg’t No.
Fred Colomb, Pte,, 1st R Nfld, 912
Frank Colomb, Pte., 1st R Nfld, 2296

(2) Age of soldier. Married or single
20, 19 – single

(5) If your husband is not supporting you give the reason.
Dead

(9) Names of your other children. Address, Age, Occupation, Married or single
David Colomb (E Forester)[?], Shallop Cove, 23, Invalid, Single
Joseph “, Shallop Cove, 30, Invalid, Married
Louis “, Citadel Hill, Halifax, 19, Soldier, Single
Peter “, Shallop Cove, 25, Fisherman, Married
Mrs. Jos. White [Mary], Shallop Cove, 26, Housekeeper, Married
Mrs. Levi Young [Nancy], Shallop Cove, 22, ” ”
Delia Colomb, [?] St., Sydney, 16, Servant, Single
Mercy “, Shallop Cove, 14, Schoolgirl, Single
Statia “, Shallop Cove, 12, ” ”
Genevieve “, Shallop Cove, 10, ” ”
Cecelia “, Shallop Cove, 9 ” ”
Bell “, Shallop Cove, 7 ” ”

(10) State amount earned by (a) yourself (b) your husband.
Hard for me to say how much I earn as I [illegible]rnr separation allowance application pg 2

(12) State value of real property belonging to you and your husband.
About $300.00

(13) State value of personal property belonging to you and your husband.
About $30.00

(15) Actual amount contributed by soldier during the year prior to enlistment.
Whatever they earned they gave to me and my husband. They were young & worked with their father. They did not give any stated sum.

(18) State your son’s trade or occupation prior to enlistment.
They helped their father fishing and farming on a small scale.

(21) State amount of monthly support from son since enlistment.
Fred gave $12.00 per month. Frank gave 50¢ per day = $15 per month. Frank while in R. Navy (1 year) gave $9.00 per month.

(23) State from what date did you receive allotment?
Fred – June 1915. Frank – as RNR Jany. 1915, soldier – June? 1916

(26) If not receiving support from other children, state cause.
Some married, some not able to work, the rest too young. Louis has to support himself.

(27) With whom are you residing at present?
The single children are staying with me.rnr separation allowance application pg 3

(28) Have you made a previous claim for Separation Allowance. If not, why?
No. My husband said while he was able to work that he would not make a claim, nor allow me to make one.

(29) Are you already in receipt of any payment from any Patriotic Fund?
No

(30) Are you already in receipt of Separation Allowance from any source?
No

(31) Was the soldier at the time of his enlistment an employee of the Nfld. Government?
No

(33) Is he in receipt of a salary as such while serving in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment?
Both dead

Response to Mrs. Colombe

rnr major paymaster reply oct 1921Dear Madam:- With reference to your application for Separation Allowance… that same cannot be granted to you… during the period of service of your son, Fred, your husband was not incapacitated, and consequently you were not at that time, totally dependent on your said son. Yours truly… 

***********************

I googled the names that Natty White mentioned of  Shallop Cove men who died in WWI. These files drew me right into their story.

Shallop Cove

natty white at shallop cove homeA 1980 interview with Nathaniel Adolph White, 1896-1987, of Shallop Cove, St. George’s. It was part of a genealogy and community history research project. I have only a tape transcript written by interviewer Joyce Blanchard. I have edited it slightly for length and clarity. Thanks to Arlene White for the photos of Mr. Natty White. (Click images for larger view.)

Also see Nathaniel White post.

People of Shallop Cove

The first man at Flat Bay Brook, the east side, was Charlie Perrier. Charlie Perrier was the son of Benjamin Perrier, the first settler there, Muddy Hole. Charlie Perrier had three – two brothers. One was Manuel Perrier, Flat Bay. The other was John Perrier, known as Jean Perrier. He was the beginning of all the Perriers in St. George’s, Steel Mountain Road.

Charlie Perrier had one son and three daughters. One of them was Fred Blanchard’s wife Gertie. The son was Wilfred Perrier, who’s dead. All the Perriers at the Brook is all his [Wilfred’s] sons. That’s all he [Charlie] had, one son. He [Wilfred] was married with Harriet Benoit, daughter of Tom Benoit, Muddy Hole.shallop-cove-mapcarta.com from flat bay to st. george's

LeJeune, Longuepee and Whites

The next one, that’s on this side of the Brook, was François LeJeune. That’s in the turn – the farm that Muskem had, that was François LeJeune’s farm but somehow I don’t think he was ever married. I haven’t heard of it anyhow, and he didn’t stay too long here. He took off for some other place.

Then there was another feller named Longuepee – that would be Long Shore in English. He had a camp by Longuepee Pond – just alongside the highway before you comes in to the gypsum mine. He’s another one that disappeared and I don’t know where he went. But that was the first settlers.

The next one was… This Joe White, as far as I know, he shifted down to where Francis White lived and there was two brothers. Jim White was another brother of Joe White. They established there by Jack Young’s on the shore side now where all the Colombes is living on that side. The road opposite Jack Young’s, that was all Jim White and Joe White’s property. Jim was east, the other fella was west. As far as I know, they were the only two of their class. There was a lot of other Whites but they weren’t related.

Now the next one that came was my grandfather. He had three sons: William, John, Kenneth, and he had two daughters. To my knowledge, one was married to Adolph Garnier – Elizabeth. The other [Adelaide] was married with my uncle William [Delaney], St. George’s. And he had a sister that married old Jim Blanchard at St. George’s. To my knowledge that’s all the family they had.

Next came the Colombes

Frederick Colombe was the next man that came. [Sons] poor Dave Colombe and old Narcisse was on that piece of land now where Budge is to.

The Colombes – there was Old Narcisse. He was never married. Frank and Narcisse – can’t remember the next one.

Q – What about Joe, was that their brother too? Oh, Joe Colombe, Joe Colombe was the son of Frank Young. Frank. That was the second family and old Narcisse had a sister too … As far as I know, Adeline, and that’s all the Colombes there was. And then the second family, and the third family was poor Frank.

He [Frank] had 21 children … and Mary. Poor Fred and Frankie were killed overseas. And then there was Peter Colombe and two or three that died young and Dave and Louis. That was all Frank Colombe’s crowd and half a dozen daughters. There was 21 altogether. That’s what you calls an old time family and it’s too bad that they didn’t get the baby bonus because they would have been a millionaire before they died. [See Colombe Brothers post for more.]nf-telegraph-fred-colombe-1915 rnr.therooms.caNf-Telegraph-1917-Frank-Colombe

from Margaree and Chéticamp

After that, that was all people from Margaree and Chéticamp. Old Pat White, he was a brother of Joe. And then old Nora [Honore?] Benoit, he was from Flat Bay. He established there where John Benoit…

The next one that established here, that’s in Shallop Cove, was Reuben Young, up by where you lives. He was from Fishell’s. Q – Was that Wallace Young’s grandfather? No, Wallace Young was the son of Reuben Young’s sister. They were Youngs too, Youngs from the Cape.

And next to that was Ned Brake. He was on the piece of land by the shore next to the Legion[?] Brook.

That was all the old people down to Pieroways. Old Bill Pieroway was another fellow who established here and I think – I’m not sure – he lived on Sandy Point.

Blanchards and Whites

Next to that was the Blanchards. Your father’s grandfather, no, your father’s great grandfather. William Blanchard was your father’s grandfather. That was the Blanchards there on this side of Blanchard’s Brook.

There was another bunch of Blanchards on the other side of the brook. Old Meda [Amadeus] Blanchard, that’s Hubert’s father. And old Peter Blanchard, that’s Meda Blanchard’s father. May Gabriel’s mother is the daughter of [Peter]. I think that’s the only two children they had.

Now the next one was old Sylvain Blanchard, Hubert Blanchard’s grandfather. And the next one was Uncle Joe, Joe White again, and Jim White, and next there where Percy Falle is to. No, that was Camille White, my Uncle Camille. And that was the older people in Shallop Cove.

Next came their family and their family and their family. You’re not interested in the younger ones. Yes? Because I can tell you George White’s family. There was Joe, Ralph and Arthur. Arthur was killed overseas in the First World War. Ralph and Joe died at home. Ralph died in St. John’s. There was three daughters. There was May and Jane and that’s all I remember of the girls.

William White and Elizabeth Delaney

In my family, my father had 14 children – 13 boys and one girl. 15 altogether. I’ll begin with Willy, was the oldest one. He died young. Then the next one was Willy again. He died in Stephenville – he was 75. He was married to Mary Ann Benoit, daughter of Luke Benoit, Stephenville.

Then there was Tom. He died in St. John’s. He was a veteran of World War I. He died at 91 and never married – he couldn’t find a woman.

Then there was Camille. He was married – that’s Willis White’s father.

And after that was Larry. He lived at St. George’s, married to Mary Benoit, daughter of Peter Benoit – Muddy Hole, Flat Bay.

Then there was Samuel. He was the one that was killed in the explosion of the ferry boat at St. George’s in 1908.

And after Samuel, there are 4 or 5 dead, that died young and some died as babies.

And after that there was Alfred and Hubert. They’re both dead. Alfred died at 75. He was a veteran of World War I. No, he never married. He was a sailor. He sailed for 59 years all over the world.

After Alfred and Hubert, I came. I was married to Stella Benoit, daughter of Frederick Benoit, Flat Bay. And we had 11 children. We were 13 years married and I won’t give you my history from there on because I couldn’t stand it.

And after that was [Clarence?]. He was the youngest one of the family. He was married to a girl from the Highlands. That’s about all the younger crowd.

The uncles and Old Pat White’s crowd

Uncle Camille was married to a girl from the Crossing, Artemis Benoit, and he had 7 children. Some of them was Alma, Martin, Mary, Lorraine, Patricia. Most of them – all the girls – are in the States. Most of them are dead except Mary who is in St. John’s.

And Uncle John only had two daughters. You remember Dide – that was one of his daughters. She was married to Frankie Bennett, Flat Bay – that man who lived down there, to that Clifford Bennett’s father, Frankie Bennett. I’ll tell you, all his relations are in Flat Bay, and that’s where he was reared up. He had two children – a Clifford and the one who’s married to Ambrose Boyles.

And Old Pat White’s crowd. There was Louis and Frankie, and you must of knew Frankie. Louis White, he owned the store. They had three, four, five – five daughters for sure. Mrs. John Delaney was one of them.

Ah, who was Pat White married to – Pat White was married to Mary Louise Garnier, daughter of Constant Garnier on the Point. Adolph was her brother and there was Arness [Ernest?] and there was Albert and there was Frank. That was all brothers from old Constant Garnier. He was a merchant on Sandy Point. And he used to have the liquor store too.

Sandy Point merchants

All the merchants on Sandy Point used to keep the liquor store as well as the other stuff. At that time there was no restrictions, no laws about having liquor and the liquor wasn’t $9 a bottle natty-white-90th-birthdayeither. I just got a bottle of brandy today – $8.85 a bottle of brandy I used to get for $4. At that time you could get a bottle of rum for a dollar and that was rum 60 overproof. You could make two bottles out of it and it would be stronger than what you get now. You could send $5 to St. John’s and they would send you a jar, a five gallon jar, and that was rum. You had to put as much water in the glass as rum.

Nathaniel White

Looking through old papers, I found a summary of a 1980 interview research assistant Joyce Blanchard conducted with Nathaniel White of Shallop Cove in Bay St. George. Mr. White, born in 1896, died in 1987. (See also Shallop Cove post.)

Mr. Nathaniel White

Today, I spoke with Mr. Nathaniel White at Shallop Cove. Mr. White is 84 years old and spent most of his life in Shallop Cove.
Mr. White told me that his great-grandfather was Marin LeBlanc from Lyon, France. He left France in 1823 aboard a French vessel. Mr. LeBlanc was 17 years old at the time. His vessel made rank at Magdalen Island and he was taken in by a family from the island. This family which took him in had four daughters and Mr. LeBlanc fell in love with the youngest daughter. He father found they were getting too close so he married them. There were no priests at the time.

Mr. LeBlanc and his wife had a son a year after they were married. This son, William Anthony White born in 1824, was Mr. Natty White’s grandfather.

Mr. LeBlanc later moved his family to Margaree. William Anthony White married Mary Ryan. (President Kennedy’s grandmother had the same name but they do not know if there was any relation.)

William Anthony White came across the Gulf and found there was lots of wildlife and fish so he decided to move over to Newfoundland. During the winter William Anthony White built a sloop and landed at Shallop Cove. He brought various seeds, etc. with him. He then built a house on the bank above the water at Shallop Cove.nathaniel white bay st george photo dorothy stewart

Mr. Natty White’s father married here and raised his family. Mr. Natty White’s father, William White, married Elizabeth Delaney from St. George’s. Elizabeth Delaney’s father was of Irish descent.

Making a living in Shallop Cove

Mr. White told me how the people made a living. He said that they fished and farmed. They would fish cod and herring until October. Then they would ship some of their catch to Halifax in exchange for supplies such as salt, flour, molasses, beef, pork, beans, tea, etc. Each family had about 15-20 sheep each. This provided them with mutton and wool. From the wool they made underwear as well as other things. Both men and women wore knitted underwear. Mr. White told me that they made coffee by burning bread. He said that it was really good.

Before Christmas they would kill 4 or 5 sheep and one of the older cows. They also had hens which provided them with eggs. In January two or three men would go in the country and bring back a load of caribou. There was no moose back then. There would always be a leader in these groups. The leader was somebody who knew the country. They would go for a week at a time. The meat they brought home they would bury in the snow. In March they would go back to the country and get more caribou which they sometimes sold for 5 cents a pound. This meat would be buried until the snow melted and then it would be salted.

In the winter they would also cut cooper stuff which is wood for making barrels. In March they would make the hoops and then in April the barrels were made. The entire barrel was made out of hand carved wood. These barrels were used for the herring and fish.

Beans for breakfast

Mr. White also told me that every morning they would have beans for breakfast. Every evening the pot of beans would be put on for the next day. On Sunday they would have fish and brewis for breakfast. For dinner and supper they would have either herring and potatoes or fresh meat. If this was not enough, they would finish up with bread and molasses.

In later years Mr. White’s old house (his father’s house) was turned into a school. He said he was 9 years old when he went to school. Later Mr. White’s father wanted the house as a work shed so Narcisse Colombe had the school in one part of his house and lived in the other end. Later the school in Shallop Cove was built, but he said that if anyone wanted a good education they would have to go to St. George’s school.

Flat Bay, Newfoundland

The Mi’kmaq community of Flat Bay in Bay St. George is on YouTube. Below is a 16 minute documentary about the west coast Newfoundland village (Feb. 2017).

You can also download the accompanying report on Traditional Land Use and Occupancy. In 86 pages, the authors give a good overview of Flat Bay’s history, traditions and kinship networks.

Flat Bay is an important historical and political centre of the Newfoundland MI’kmaq. Its people have been central in the fight for official recognition as a First Nation. But if you’re driving across Newfoundland, you’re likely to miss it. It’s well off the TransCanada Highway at the end of a road that goes nowhere else. This has been good for Flat Bay’s preservation of identity. From the conclusion of the report, here’s a bit of the reason why.

flat bay tluos cover photo
Flat Bay, photo from TLUOS cover page

[The Mi’kmaq] settled in Flat Bay, due to its abundance of eel, access to the interior by the “river highways,” and provided isolation while allowing closeness to trading partners on Sandy Point.

…Originally a patchwork community was knit together due to their natural river boundaries. Hundreds of people bound together, through various means, surviving off the bounty of land and water, slowing closing the distance between them through the relationships that established the bloodlines we document in this study. For a time, the communities, Flat Bay West, East, and St. Teresa’s, were divided by the dialogue of outsiders. Divisions [were] drawn along… place name, family name, income and occupation, education, dialect…

As the community began to shrink for these reasons and others, the residents undertook policy, whether they did it consciously is still up for debate, of their community’s regeneration… Flat Bay was not unlike a thousand other small communities… of Newfoundland; the difference was someone else was writing our story. [pp 57-58]

google map flat bay
Google map of Flat Bay (click to enlarge)

Flat Bay History and Families

Flat Bay has been writing its own story, in terms of maintaining a strong Mi’kmaq community, for a long time. They literally write their own story in this study, in its authorship and use of interviews with residents. It begins with a concise history of the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq and of Flat Bay. The authors then trace the history of industrial and subsistence economic activities, social and trade contact with nearby communities, and the effect of game laws. Education, language and the role of women are discussed in terms of tradition and change. The final section is an easy to follow history of the major Mi’kmaq families in the town: Benoit, King, Webb and Young.

It is an excellent study. Thanks to authors Calvin White, Hailey Burroughs, Mary Elsa (Dale) Young and Ivan White.

Mary Francis Webb

Mrs. Mary Webb was a midwife, one of the best known and most respected on Newfoundland’s west coast. She was also a healer using traditional Mi’kmaq medicines. She was a craftswoman. She farmed, raised animals, fished, hunted, trapped, and cut wood. She raised children and grandchildren.

midwife mary webb obit
Page 31, newspaper unknown. Click to enlarge.

Her first language was Mi’kmaq. In school, she learned English. From her Codroy Valley neighbours, she learned Scots Gaelic. As an adult living in Bay St. George, she learned French. These were the languages of early 20th century west coast Newfoundland. Her fluency meant she could speak with clients in their own language.

A “lay midwife”, Mary Webb had no formal training or accreditation. She started as an assistant and learned by experience. There were other midwives in Bay St. George: Susan Benoit and Emily Ann Paul in Flat Bay; Minnie Blanchard, Philomena Ryan and Philomena Sheppard in St. George’s; Rose Curnew in Stephenville Crossing. Formally trained midwives worked for the Grenfell Mission (see my Tempting Providence). Mrs. Webb was noteworthy for the great distances she travelled in her work. In all seasons at all hours, she went as far south as the Codroy Valley and north to Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands.

Midwife or doctor: social change

Until the mid-20th century, women in outport Newfoundland had their babies at home. The midwife arrived shortly before a woman’s due date and she or her assistant stayed for several days after the baby’s birth. A doctor was called if necessary. Emergencies happen, of course, so the midwife might be called early and she had to deal with complications if a doctor could not get there in time.

In the 1950s and ’60s, cottage hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices opened in rural areas. More vehicles and new roads made travel to larger centres easier. Hospital births became the norm. Health care became professionalized. mary webb in kitchen, from her grandson FrankInformally-taught midwives and healers were longer central to it. Mrs. Webb was among the last generation of lay midwives in Bay St. George.

She passed on her knowledge of traditional medicines to those interested in learning. And she embodied being Mi’kmaw. Her fluency with the language and traditional skills, her pride in her heritage, her self-respect. All these things were noted by those who knew her. For those who were part of the Mi’kmaq cultural and political revitalization in the 1970s, Mrs. Webb was a reminder of who they were and what they were fighting for.

She was born in 1881 in the Codroy Valley, daughter of Ben François and Mary Young. In 1903 she married John Webb of Flat Bay in Bay St. George. He died about 1930. She remained in Flat Bay, with Norman Young as her life companion. She died June 3, 1978.