Snook’s Harbour

Up, Down, Out, Over the road

It may be prevalent elsewhere, but one thing Newfoundlander’s know is that distance isn’t measured in miles or kilometers, its measured in time.  How far to St. John’s? 2 hours.  Gander? Hour and a half. If you don’t do it in those times, then you’re obviously driving too slow.

One other thing we have is how we point out communities and locations on the way.  Back home, Apsey Brook was at the end of the road, so we of course had to go “up” the road to go anywhere, and everyone knew coming from that direction you were coming up.  A confusing side effect of this was that Snook’s Harbour meets at the bottom of three hills or grades, and so that portion is of course named “bottom”.  It was always amusing to see CFAs (come from aways) confusion when we said we were going up to bottom.  Of course, since the road took a 90 degree turn there, we had to go “over” to Elliott’s Cove.

Going to school was down to Hickman’s, and if we went shopping we went up to Clarenville. It all makes perfect sense, no?  Then again we also had to deal with going out the arm, out the sound, in to town, and so on and so on.  Yet we all knew which was which, and if someone got it backwards (like maybe me now, is it out to town? or in? I keep forgetting?) god help them for the fun making about to be heaped on them.

Anyway, was always fun to head up to bottom and play ball, and then run over to the store to get a snack.  If you get a chance, pick me up something while you’re over :).

Settlements of the Past

Grave Markers

Grave Markers (Picture by Eric Cooper)

Just a short post to followup on my mention of the cemetery at the brickyard in Snook’s Harbour.  Years and years ago it appears there was a settlement here called Sooley’s Brook.  I can’t really recall it being talked about in my generation, but like a lot of things, the people who know about things assume everyone does.  The book Random Island Pioneers makes a quick reference to the community, but that’s all I can see about it there.  I did find this one link to transcribed data from something called McAlpine’s Directory from 1894-97 referencing a Moses Strong living there.

Eric took a couple pictures today for me of the site, which was apparently a Church of England graveyard, and couple of the old long markers we used to see on graves.  I really don’t know if those have meaning, but if you know please share!

I’m sure there are lots of other small cemeteries around back home too with their own history, if you know of any please share the pictures and stories with me!

Random Island Industry

UPDATE: Just found a link with some history of the Milton Brickyard, and comments on our own at

Snook's Harbour Brickyard (Photo by Eric Cooper)

Snook’s Harbour Brickyard (Photo by Eric Cooper)

I’m sure many of the younger generation on the island are in the dark about the fact that in past years, there were, if not thriving, at least operating businesses, making use of local products.  Yes, many many people had sawmills and some even operated as a going concern till recently at least, and I’m sure I’ll talk more about mills later.  But back in the early 1900’s up till the early 50’s there were for a time two brickyards on the island, one in Elliott’s Cove and one in Snook’s Harbour.

I remember Dad telling me about his first job being at the brickyard, 10 cents an hour for 10 hour days.  Back in those days the owner was as much your bank as your employer too, Dad also told me the story of wanting a bike, so rather than actually buying it, his boss Uncle At Smith got it for him out of his wages.

The brickyard supplied brick for all the locals, I know our well was lined with brick from Snook’s Harbour, and our chimney was made from it as well.  Looking closely at the picture you can see shards of brick amongst the snow on the shore (yes I know its hard not to look at the view, see how tough we had it scenery wise?).

When I was younger it was easy to find full bricks, maybe slightly imperfect scattered on the shore with the Smith name stamped in them.  I had one as a kind of souvenir in our house back home, wish I had thought to keep it now, those keepsakes mean more as you get older I find. There were also remnants of equipment to be seen.  I’m sure more of this has washed away or grown over over the years.

The Snook’s Harbour brickyard area was also home to some people, I’m not sure it it ever had a name as a community, but there is a small graveyard near there.  I’m sure someone reading can give me more details (and I’ll try to look them up later).  I’ll update this if I ever get info.

View from Brickyard Area (Picture by Eric Cooper)

View from Brickyard Area (Picture by Eric Cooper)

Elliott’s Cove brickyard too had remnants, but were harder to find as that yard closed much earlier.  I’m sure its still worth a visit to the curious or nostalgic though.  Adding another view from the Snook’s Harbour brickyard here, just because.  Enjoy the view, and thanks Eric!

Cabins in the Woods

As adults we all know the lure of the cabin in the woods, to be able to relax, no electricity, no phones, nothing but birds and relaxation.  But as boys we too seemed to have a fascination with cabins, or at least we did back home.  I can’t even begin to count how many were made over the years.

The most elaborate I remember was mainly built by my brother Keith and Lorne Patey in by the brook in Apsey Brook.  They picked a flat piece of land, that was near the woods path that went in across Uncle Ingham Smith’s garden, we just had to scramble up and down over the bank.  I really don’t remember how old we were, but I remember they knocked down logs and used as a base, and built a floor upon it.  We had a 45 gallon drum with a stove pipe coming out for a stove, and they at least ( I don’t think I ever slept there, or was allowed, or something) had hammocks hung to sleep in.  Yet my biggest memory somehow seems to be looking at our old collections of hockey cards in there.  We had many a full set all kept in special cardboard lockers that were issued for each season. I’m not sure what became of it, maybe the cabin is still there, but more likely it washed away at some point.  And if it hadn’t before, I’m sure hurricane Igor did the job on it.

The last I remember was built up in the woods behind our house, not far in, but not on any path either.  It was basically a shack with a sloped roof, but was always a fun place to go and sit and chat with friends.  I’d say that one has tumbled down long ago as it wasn’t nearly as sturdy, but it was fun, made of planks likely from Dad’s old mill, a door made for it, using pieces of rubber nailed to it for hinges, and a wooden knob pivoting on a nail to keep the door shut on the inside, and a bar and slot to keep it closed when we left.  Not that snow didn’t blow in underneath anyway!

And then of course as we got older, Barry Cooper had a great couple of cabins in Snook’s Harbour down by the water.  I can’t comment on the building of those, but they were much better built than those we built as boys. He had a big wooden table and a couple of bench seats pulled from an old car somewhere.  We’d head there and play cards, have a few beer, and generally use them as our party location.

Another fond memory of growing up.  Do kids back home still make cabins anymore? Of course there aren’t 2 or 3 sawmills in every community now either, so supplies aren’t as easy to come by.

Randall’s Garden

Snook’s Harbour

Down at the bottom of the hill, just below where you see the beach start is, or was, Randall’s garden.  Watching NFL football playoffs today reminds me of many a championship played there, in baseball, soccer, football, frisbee football, and even cross country pool/croquet.

Yes we had our own rules, large rocks were bases, arbitrary spots on the garden were end zones, throwing the ball at a runner and hitting him was an out, two more rocks could have been a soccer net.

Everyone played, of all ages, we needed to to just get enough to play.  Some rude comments and names were called, Sulfy Nelewah (yes I know, thats not how it was spelt backwards, but its how we sounded it out), Pick-Ass, and more I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

I remember getting off the school bus in the evening in Snook’s Harbour and playing whatever our game of the day was till dad came home from work and catching a ride home with him, often to hop on the bike after supper and ride back up to play till dark.  I can remember Aunt Vick calling Scott and Derek and Rod home for supper, yes we could hear her up at bottom (up at bottom?!, thats a post for another day).

How many red, white and blue balls did Craig hit in the brook when he “cross-bat”, how many times did Randy hit Mac’s roof? and even more, how many times did we throw rocks behind the ball when it went into the harbour to try and push it ashore?

If we got thirsty or hungry we could go to Ron’s store, or Bax’s store, or Hefford’s store, or Aunt Vick’s store.  I mean how many stores can a town of 80 support?  I will always remember Aunt Glad Hefford selling gum by the stick, and recording the tax on everything in a scribler.  Aunt Vick had this ancient cash register, was fun just to look at it.

Many an hour was spent on that garden, it was our field of dreams.