The Newfoundland Memoirs of Rev. C. Ernest Smith
famous memory; also the Scotia, equally famous as the only paddle steamer crossing the Atlantic, while the Minia, a steamship owned by the company itself, was a frequent visitor. It was from Heart’s Content that men first went to accomplish that most surprising feat of picking up in midAtlantic the ends of a broken cable, joining them together and then letting the repaired cable gently fall back again into its bed of ooze on the Atlantic floor.”
As with other Anglican parishes in Newfoundland, the Heart’s Content parish reserved “ the right to choose its own rector.” All other parishes were “missions” and, as such, were “subject to the Bishop’s direction.”
Despite the right of the parish to call its own rector, it elected to leave the choice to the Bishop. He appointed Smith “ to fill the vacancy.”
Smith, who “ was only in deacon’s orders,” displayed “ the usual self-confidence of youth.” Instead of “ taking the customary few days to consider the offer,” he readily accepted it. Within a matter of weeks, he was installed as rector of the Heart’s Content parish.
His parish “ was perhaps the largest and, in some respects, the most important in the island.” However, “ Dame Rumour had it that it was a parish of somewhat exceptional difficulty.”
The reason for this perceived difficulty lay with the composition of the residents. “ There were,” Smith wrote, “ two entirely different sets of people, each living their own life” and, he intimated, “ never the twain shall meet.”
The first set were the “‘ natives’ who formed the great bulk of the parishioners-mostly fishermen, shopkeepers and merchants.”
The second set were “ the ‘staff ’ and their families.” They had arrived in the town “ from all parts of the world, England, Canada, United States, Ireland and France.”
Most of the latter set were members of the Church of England. Smith was interested to learn that, among his parishioners were two nieces of Bishop John Coleridge Patterson ( 182771), the martyred priest of Melanesia. The women were married to prominent men of the Company staff. Patterson had distinguished himself by doing “so great a work for the islands of the Southern Seas and, in death, a still greater [work], for then, as ever, the blood of the martyrs had been the seed of the Church.”
To be continued.