Monument honouring Carbonear man shot dead in 1883 moved next to headstone
Orangeman William Janes first person killed in Harbour Grace Affray
CARBONEAR, NL — When Carbonear’s Loyal Orange Lodge closed its doors for good a few years ago, questions loomed about the future of an historic monument.
Now, the monument dedicated to William Janes’ tragic death almost 134 years ago stands tall beside his final resting place in an Anglican cemetery.
The story of a monument dedicated to Janes goes all the way back to St. Stephen’s Day (also known as Boxing Day) in 1883. On this day, hundreds of local Orangemen were walking through the streets of Harbour Grace for their annual parade.
Back in those days, there were significant dividing lines around religious faith. There was a violent clash with Roman Catholics that day, and Janes was reported to be the first person shot and killed, one of five who died during the confrontation between both sides. The event became known as the Harbour Grace Affray.
According to Bert Parsons, a member of the Carbonear Heritage Society, Orangemen had started building a new lodge in Carbonear around this time — the organization was first established locally in 1869.
“After this event took place in Harbour Grace, one year later on Nov. 27, 1884, the committee proposed to put a monument in memory of William Janes.”
The monument was placed on the main path leading to the lodge’s front door.
“And it’s been there ever since, up until the time the lodge closed,” said Parsons.
The Town of Carbonear agreed to take the stone. It was stored at the municipal depot while discussions took place to see where the monument’s next destination would be.
“Of course, a couple of us in town were wondering what was going to happen to this stone here, because it’s a very historic stone,” said Parsons. “It’s been here since 1884, and it’s probably one of the most historic events that took place in our history — the Harbour Grace Affray.”
It was eventually agreed the cemetery next to St. James Anglican Church would be an appropriate location, given Janes’ burial plot and headstone was located there.
“We discussed the issue about where to put the stone, and the vestry had a meeting about it, and we sized up the situation,” said Duncan Howell, people’s warden for St. James Anglican Church. “We came to the consensus that there was no more appropriate place to put it then beside the grave of Mr. Janes. And the council was quite helpful in this effort.”
A concrete block was poured for the monument to stand on. Of considerable height and weight, it was lifted over a wall at the south end of the cemetery with heavy machinery and then placed next to Janes’ headstone. The Town of Carbonear covered the cost of restoring and relocating the monument.
“They realized as well as we did that having that in storage in a council facility was inappropriate for a historic item like that,” said Howell.
Harbour Rock Hill was at one point considered as an alternative location, with Parsons pointing out it was once the site of an old Loyal Orange Lodge.
The church cleaned up the area where the monument now stands thanks to a pair of summer students.
“It’s much more open and accessible than it was,” Howell said in regards to the southern portion of the cemetery.
Duncan Howell, people’s warden for St. James Anglican Church, left, and Bert Parsons of the Carbonear Heritage Society stand beside a monument dedicated to one of the most tragic events in Carbonear and Harbour Grace’s shared history.
The Loyal Orange Lodge No. 13 when it was still in use by the local group in 2009. It has since disbanded. The monument for William Janes can be seen on the right.
The gravestone for William Janes of Carbonear now has the monument built in 1884 standing beside his final resting place for the first time.