A “young feller from Bonavis’ Bay”
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.