A “young feller from Bon­avis’ Bay”

The Compass - - ED­I­TO­RIAL OPIN­ION - Star Weekly. Star Weekly Star Weekly Star Weekly,

The reader is told: “It is the first in a se­ries of por­traits of the prov­inces that will oc­cupy an im­por­tant part of this and nine sub­se­quent is­sues of the Be­gin­ning on the east coast, this Cav­al­cade of Canada will move west. The fol­low­ing pages of­fer a new view of New­found­land.”

The pho­to­graphs are evoca­tive of a long-lost time.

There’s one of night­club wait­resses in St. John’s, who are “up-to-date New­found­land style. Bun­nies wear ten­nis dresses.”

There’s one of a dwin­dling fish mar­ket in a St. John’s street. “$1 buys a big cod … but house­wives pre­fer chain-store fil­lets they don’t have to clean.”

There’s one of a Trans-Canada High­way sign near St. John’s: “ We’ll fin­ish the drive in ‘65 St. John’s to Port aux Basques-Thanks to Mr. (Lester B.) Pear­son.”

Ac­cord­ing to Locke, “New­found­land has its share of mil­lion­aires.” As ev­i­dence, wit­ness the photo of 30year-old An­drew Cros­bie as he re­laxes with his family in a pool.

Photos aside, the prose sec­tion of the tells the story of one Joe Cut­ler of Centreville. The com­mu­nity is sit­u­ated on the north shore high­way in the Bon­av­ista North area and be­gan in 1959 by set­tlers mov­ing from Fair Is­land just off the coast. “ Joe Cut­ler is a 20-year-old New­found­lan­der who, only four years ago, en­tered the modern world.”

Cut­ler had a rather friv­o­lous rea­son for want­ing to move to Centreville — to es­cape the lim­ited so­cial life on Fair Is­land. His per­sonal am­bi­tions were sim­ple: reg­u­larly watch NHL hockey on TV, drive to the Gan­der shop­ping cen­tre, and walk with a girl to the snack bar in nearby Ware­ham.

He as­sumed his fu­ture lay in fish­ing and log­ging, the oc­cu­pa­tions fol­lowed by his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther. What else was there for a “young feller from Bon­avis’ Bay?”

Af­ter re­lo­cat­ing from Fair Is­land to Centreville, Cut­ler be­came a ded­i­cated Toronto Maple Leafs fan and a fa­mil­iar face next to the jukebox in Ware­ham’s snack bar.

How­ever, he did some­thing his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther be­fore him never did; he be­came “ed­u­cated be­yond his par­ents’ most unlikely dreams.” His fa­ther had a “sam­pling of education,” while his grand­fa­ther couldn’t “write his own name.”

I beg the reader’s in­dul­gence as I re­pro­duce here Locke’s con­de­scend­ing at­ti­tude as she writes about Cut­ler. Un­der the tute­lage of uni­ver­si­ty­trained teach­ers, he “ be­gan to lose his out­port habits of speech (a capri­cious drop­ping and adding of ‘ h’s,’ in­her­ited, along with an an­tique ap­proach to gram­mar, from his English an­ces­tors).”

Fol­low­ing high school, Cut­ler en­tered the cer­tifi­cate course in teacher train­ing at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity of New­found­land in St. John’s. By 1963, when the story ap­peared, Cut­ler had fin­ished his first term on the staff of the el­e­men­tary school in Belle Isle, sit­u­ated at the north­east end of New­found­land at the At­lantic en­trance to the Strait of Belle Isle. He had never, in his wildest dreams, ex­pected to travel such a long dis­tance from his home.

Premier Joey Small­wood summed up 1962 by say­ing: “Un­der God, Con­fed­er­a­tion is the great­est bless­ing ever to be­fall the New­found­land peo­ple.”

I just won­der, af­ter reading this story in the Did Joe Cut­ler feel the same as his premier?

Speak­ing of Cut­ler, I can’t help but won­der where he is today. If he’s still liv­ing, he’s only 68.

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