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.