Con­nect­ing the ca­bles

Lec­turer high­lights Bull Arm cable


Lec­turer touts the un­her­alded role that an­other New­found­land com­mu­nity played in the land­ing of the transat­lantic cable be­tween Europe and North Amer­ica.

The land­ing of the At­lantic Cable at Heart’s Con­tent in 1866 had im­me­di­ate and long-last­ing ef­fects on the town. The story has been re­told in great de­tail through the years.

Less well known is the cable con­nec­tion with an­other pro­vin­cial town.

The story of the land­ing of the cable at Bull Arm (now Sun­ny­side) in 1858 is of­ten a mere foot­note to the big­ger Heart’s Con­tent story. This cable lasted only two months.

As part of its open house cel­e­bra­tions on Tues­day, July 27, the Heart’s Con­tent Cable Sta­tion high­lighted the role of Bull Arm in transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The event marked the 144th an­niver­sary of the land­ing of the first suc­cess­ful cable.

About 50 peo­ple filled the the­atre room to view a slide pre­sen­ta­tion by guest speaker Su­san Rock­wood-Kha­l­ad­kar.

Her lec­ture was en­ti­tled, “ The First Transat­lantic Cable: A His­tor­i­cal Per­spec­tive.”

Rock­wood-Kha­l­ad­kar has a unique con­nec­tion to Heart’s Con­tent. Her mother was a Rowe from the town, and her fa­ther a Rock­wood from Sun­ny­side, but orig­i­nally from the town.

Rock­wood-Kha­l­ad­kar was born in Heart’s Con­tent, but moved to St. John’s. She and her hus­band re­cently re­lo­cated to Sun­ny­side from Saskatchewan, where she worked in com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

This per­sonal per­spec­tive pro­vided the pal­ette for her colour­ful pre­sen­ta­tion.

“I’m com­ing to this pre­sen­ta­tion with roots in both com­mu­ni­ties,” she said. “ I grew up with my par­ents ar­gu­ing about where the first cable was.

“ Both com­mu­ni­ties con­trib­uted to to­day’s mod­ern world of com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” she added.

Con­nect­ing con­ti­nents with a 2,500mile un­der­sea cable, from Ire­land to Bay Bull Arm, and later Heart’s Con­tent, was “the great­est en­gi­neer­ing feat of the 19th cen­tury,” she said.

“Both com­mu­ni­ties con­trib­uted to to­day’s mod­ern world of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

— Su­san Rock­wood-Kha­l­ad­kar

The first clear mes­sage was “ Europe and Amer­ica are united by teleg­ra­phy. Glory to God in the high­est, on earth peace, good will to­wards men.”

A his­tory buff, Rock­wood-Kha­l­ad­kar en­joys talk­ing about his­tory.

“As long as I know what I’m talk­ing about, I ’ m okay,” she added with a chuckle.

bur­tonj@ nfld. net

Heart’s Con­tent Cable Sta­tion, the site of the first suc­cess­ful transat­lantic cable.

Pho­tos by Bur­ton K. Janes/The Com­pass

The 50 peo­ple who crowded the the­atre room to hear Su­san Rock­wood-Kha­l­ad­kar’s lec­ture.

Lengths of cable on the beach across from the Heart’s Con­tent Cable Sta­tion. Ca­bles like these al­lowed transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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