Lo­cal his­tory go­ing the way of the dodo

The Compass - - OPINION -

This year has not been kind to some of the relics of Con­cep­tion Bay North.

Sev­eral weeks ago, the Har­bour Grace iconic ship, the S.S. Kyle, be­gan to crum­ble.

A room above the 101-year-old ves­sel’s deck col­lapsed, leav­ing ques­tions on what should hap­pen to this piece of his­tory.

Just last week, the for­mer Bond Theatre on Wa­ter Street in Car­bon­ear burned to the ground. No one was in­jured, but this in­ci­dent weighed heav­ily on the minds of for­mer movie­go­ers.

Sto­ries of the Kyle and the theatre have been passed on over the years by fam­ily mem­bers and friends who were lucky enough to have ex­pe­ri­enced them in all the glory they once had.

Those who went to hunt seal on the Labrador aboard the large ship have told tales of hard work, friend­ship and what it meant to be a part of our fish­ery.

The ship may have drifted into the inlet of Har­bour Grace in 1967, but the phys­i­cal pres­ence kept the sto­ries alive as chil­dren rowed out, climbed aboard and toured it.

It is dif­fi­cult now to freely walk about the ship, but Libby Earle, the daugh­ter of its last cap­tain, Guy Earle, swims in the ocean to touch the hull of the ship each year to keep its mem­ory alive.

The theatre cre­ated mem­o­ries for many who at­tended it un­til the late 1970s.

If you ask any­one from Car­bon­ear over the age of 45, chances are they re­mem­ber go­ing to see a flick. Some oth­ers may also tell sto­ries of a live per­for­mance from Hank Snow and other big names of the era.

Since the 350-seat theatre was the place to be when it was open, there are likely many un­told sto­ries that had been lost over­time.

But af­ter the fire, par­ents and neigh­bours be­gan to share the mem­o­ries they made from at­tend­ing. The un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stance al­lowed some to rem­i­nisce about the past, and re­call mem­o­ries once for­got­ten.

There has been a move­ment in both towns, along with other places in the prov­ince, to save the his­toric sites, keep in­vest­ing in them to keep the mem­o­ries alive.

The govern­ment won’t in­vest, and a town coun­cil can only do so much within its budget. So how will these mem­o­ries be pre­served? Chances are they will con­tinue to fade with each gen­er­a­tion, along with cas­sette tapes, tube tele­vi­sions and even pa­per­back and hard­cover books.

There are al­ready those who had their own sto­ries of the Kyle or the theatre that never had the chance to share them. And those sto­ries are lost for­ever.

To keep our her­itage and cul­ture go­ing, sto­ries of meet­ing your fu­ture wife at the Bond or sav­ing a fel­low sailor from fall­ing over­board on the Kyle must be shared.

If not, you will find the mem­o­ries will no longer mat­ter, since there will be no one left to pass them on.

— Melissa Jenk­ins is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass news­pa­per in Car­bon­ear. She can be reached at melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

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